Introduction and Brief Overview

All the very early information, up to 1946, I acquired from the documents and various papers left by my grandfather, who started the company, and his son Albert Baumann (my uncle), who produced a set of memoirs in which he referred to many of the earlier competitors.  To this I added a certain amount of my own research.  Some information was taken from the book “Huntley and Palmer’s of Reading:  1822 – 1972” written by T A B Corley and from the booklet “John Pyott:  1862 – 1947” by J S Bennie.

My connection with the biscuit industry covers 37 years and this gives me the knowledge of what happened in the past.

1940 Served one year’s apprenticeship in my grandfather’s bread, cake and biscuit factory in Brickhill Road, on the factory floor.
1946  Returned to Bakers Ltd as a clerk having qualified as a Chartered Accountant.
1949  Appointed a Director of Bakers Ltd and Selected Products Ltd.
1958 Appointed Managing Director of Bakers Ltd.
1971 Appointed Chairman of the Bakers Group.
1975 Became the Chief Executive Director of Selected Products Ltd as well.
1978 Chairman of the National Association of Biscuit Manufacturers of South Africa (to 1984).
1983 November.  Retired as Chief Executive Director of the biscuit group but remained on the Board for some years.

During the period of my involvement in the biscuit industry, I naturally came into contact with all the people involved so all the information recorded for this period is from personal knowledge.

In the early days Bakers Ltd held about 36% market share in biscuits and its subsidiary company Baumanns in Cape Town held about 18% of the South African market share.  At the time that I retired from business after we had sold our company to Anglovaal Ltd, the Bakers Group held 90% of the biscuit market share.  The remaining 10% consisted of ‘own name’ brands for the supermarkets and one or two small companies.

During this period Bakers Ltd acquired all the other biscuit companies.  It is interesting that we did not approach the other companies to buy them out but they approached us, and I sometimes wonder why this should be.   Why did they not sell  to somebody else who might be interested in baking biscuits?   I think a reason could be that we had built up a good name in the industry and with our competitors.  Our competitors also knew that we established good staff relations with people employed by us and probably felt that their staff would be well looked after.  Knowing our abilities in the biscuit market, they perhaps believed they could get a better price from us.  Our failure to actively pursue the purchase of other companies probably stems back to an earlier outlook when my uncle, Albert Baumann, was Managing Director and who grew the company vigorously.   He maintained that it was good for us always to have an active competitor because this kept us on our toes.

During most of my time in the industry the major players in order of size were

            Bakers Ltd trading as Bakers
            Selected Products Ltd trading as Baumanns Biscuits
            Pyotts Biscuits
            Premier Biscuit Company trading as Three Rings Biscuits
            Hays Biscuits (later named Westons)

All biscuit manufacturers started off as bread bakers who also made a few hand-made biscuits.

Biscuit manufacturing as an industry really started from the day the first machine was constructed to make biscuits, displacing small scale production by hand.  Several biscuit companies were started and some failed.  There were take-overs and name changes and even factory moves to other areas.  The date list which follows gives a shortened picture of these events from 1883 when the first biscuit machine was installed in South Africa until 1984 when I retired from business.

Relevant dates relating to the various biscuit producers in South Africa

1883 Plowright (Durban) sold ship biscuit machine to JML Baumann
1885 L Baumann and Company moved to Brickhill Road, Durban from approximately 160 West Street and installed the first machine in South Africa to make Fancy Biscuits.
1886 The Port Elizabeth Steam Confectionery Works was established by the Pyott family, and in 1901 installed biscuit machinery.<
1910 Probably date on which Whyte's, Port Elizabeth, established their biscuit factory.
1914 Pyott established a biscuit factory in Woodstock, Cape Town (383/? Albert Road)
1917 29th December -  J M L Baumann converted L Baumann and Company, Durban, to Bakers Ltd.<
<1917 Whyte’s Bakery of Durban - no connection to Whytes of Port Elizabeth installed a biscuit machine.
1918 William Baumann opened a factory at No 1 Orange Street, Cape Town, registered in October 1918 as Selected Products Ltd, making Baumann's Biscuits.
1920 Mr Gain (Gain’s Bakery in Johannesburg) opened a biscuit factory in Siemert Street on 25th April.  Soon went insolvent and was non-operational for two years.
1921 Pyott established a bread and biscuit factory in Durban (Umgeni Road)
1921 Selected Products in Cape Town sold by Mr William Baumann to Bakers Ltd, Durban.
1924 Whyte’s Bakery of Durban closed its biscuit factory and sold its biscuit cutting machine to Bakers Ltd.
1925 William Baumann moved the factory in Cape Town from Orange Street to Newmarket Street.
1925 Premier Milling Company bought the insolvent Gains factory in Johannesburg and re-opened it as The Premier Biscuit Company (Pty) Ltd.
1927 At some time before this date John Hay who had a bakery in Grey Street/Berea Road, Durban moved to Pietermaritzburg and opened a biscuit factory there as Hay’s Biscuits.

Whyte's Biscuit Factory in Port Elizabeth (owned by South African Milling Co) closed.


Minerva Biscuit Factory opened in Durban at 45 Morrison Street and closed down after 6 months.


Pyott closed the Cape Town and Durban biscuit factories and consolidated their operations in Port Elizabeth – at a new factory in Darling Street.


Hay Biscuit Factory, Pietermarizburg,  sold to Westons of the UK.

1954 Westons moved Hay's Biscuit Factory (now known as Westons) to Springs, Transvaal

(Approximate year)  Westons UK bought the Premier Milling Company owners of the Premier Biscuit Company.  Later this biscuit factory was added into Westons at Springs.


Bakers Ltd established a factory at Isando in the Transvaal.


(Approximate year)  Enterprise Bakeries (Pty) Ltd in Cape Town commenced biscuit operation.


6th December - Bakers Ltd factory at Westmead, Pinetown started production.

1973 Bakers biscuit operations at Brickhill Road, Durban, closed and concentrated at Westmead.

(Approximate year)  Pyott's, Port Elizabeth, was sold to Nabisco – the National Biscuit Company of America.


1st September - Enterprise Bakeries (Pty) Ltd sold its biscuit operation to Bakers/Baumanns (Pty) Ltd and the plant was moved into Baumann’s Cape Town factory.


Fatti’s & Moni’s started biscuits as Fino Food Industries at Isando, Transvaal.


August - Bakers Ltd built a small factory, Lexim (Pty) Ltd, at Butterworth, Transkei.


1st April - United Macaroni Factories sold its operations, which traded as Fattis Biscuits, to Bakers Ltd.   Company name changed to Fino Biscuits (Pty) Ltd on 29th June 1979.


Nabisco sold Pyott's at Port Elizabeth to the Premier Milling Company.


Bakers South Africa Ltd (the owners of Bakers Ltd and Selected Products Ltd, ie. Baumanns) sold to Anglovaal Industries.


1st October - Bakers South Africa Ltd bought the Premier Group’s biscuit interests –

(a)  Pyott (Pty) Ltd at Port Elizabeth
(b)  a small handmade biscuit operation in Johannesburg (Homaco Biscuits)
(c)  the machinery of the Premier Biscuit Company and Westons at Springs which had been closed down
(d) the Mozmarks Matzos production line at Springs.  (Homaco was closed down about 2 years later.)