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Bennett Opie chairman Philip Opie retires after 40 years, as fifth generation joins family food firm in Sittingbourne

By Chris Price

The chairman of a 137-year-old food producer and distributor is stepping down as the fifth generation of his family joins the business.

Philip Opie, who joined Bennett Opie more than four decades ago, will retire from his role as technical director and chairman after 17 years in the role.

The move comes as his son Christopher joins as sales and marketing director after several years in the fast-moving consumer goods sector, latterly at Unilever.

Back row from left, Anthony and Christopher Opie, in front, William and Philip Opie
Back row from left, Anthony and Christopher Opie, in front, William and Philip Opie

Meanwhile, Anthony Opie, son of managing director William, has joined as a management trainee.

The pair are the fifth generation of the Opie family to take on key roles in the Sittingbourne-based firm.

It comes as newly filed accounts at Companies House show the company increased turnover 7% to £30 million and grew pre-tax profits 63% to £3.1 million in the year to April 2016, giving it a bottom line profit of £2.5 million.

Bennett Opie was founded in 1880 and produces and distributes a range of pickles, chutneys, olives and sauces, both under its own brand and as the sole distributor for the likes of Monin, Lingham’s Chilli Sauce, Barry Norman Pickled Onions.

Bennett Opie's headquarters in Sittingbourne
Bennett Opie's headquarters in Sittingbourne

Managing director William Opie said: “Bennett Opie are proud of our long-lasting family heritage and with Christopher and Anthony joining this has really cemented our future.

“Whilst welcoming both Christopher and Anthony, the business will undoubtedly miss the presence of my brother Philip.

“Whilst welcoming both Christopher and Anthony, the business will undoubtedly miss the presence of my brother Philip..." - William Opie, Bennett Opie

“Without his help, hard work and experience the business would not have achieved the success it has today.”

Philip graduated with a degree in biochemistry and previously worked at GlaxoSmithKline.

In addition to his role at Bennett Opie, where he has developed a range of its best-selling products, he has been a member of the Institute of Food Scientists and Technologists.

He has served on influential committees including the Leatherhead Research Association, Food & Drink Federation and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Food Processing.

He will remain as a director on the Bennett Opie board.

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