Bye Buy British Brands

Two more iconic British brands have recently been sold to the highest foreign bidder. Ribena and Lucozade have now left these shores, likely never to return. Apparently, £1.35bn buys a slice of British culture and 150 years of childhood memories. I personally have fond recollections of both brands:

Whenever I was sick as a child a bottle of Lucozade would magically appear by my bedside. No matter what the illness, this bright orange elixir would be the apparent cure. I am still convinced that it can cool a fever, stop the itch of chicken pox or even re-grow a limb. I recall the old glass bottle contained in a cellophane film and the slight medicinal smell as the first gas escaped when I twisted the metal lid.


Then there is Ribena. Well known for being responsible for 95% all the UK’s black current production, and did you know that during the war this blackcurrent syrup was one of the nations main sources of Vitamin C? Again, my personal recollections of this brand are well ingrained into my psyche, and without these cartons of sugary liquid my early summers would have never been the same.

Is it silly that a grown man should have such an emotional response to two overly sweet drinks? I challenge anyone to not have similar memories. So, when we talk about brands being worth billions of pounds I say they are worth much more. To me they are worth over 150 years of British cultural significance and the childhood memories of multiple generations of a nations children.

Some may suggest that this post is overly dramatic, and perhaps that is true, but it is difficult to see why we do not, as a country, value our Brands far more than than we do. There value is not just financial but cultural and when we sell a brand as iconic as Aston Martin or Cadbury or HP Sauce (the list is tragically endless) it feels like we lose a bit of our selves.

– James



  1. Richard Willan says

    I only partly agree with the sentiments. Look what Tata’s ownership of Jaguar LandRover has produced. Tata has invested huge amounts of capital in the management and development of these two brands. The companies are Indian owned but design, product development and production is all British. In addition to the 1700 new jobs announced today, the company has also increased its employment in UK over the last six years by 10,000.

  2. Its not overly dramatic at all.It angers me when I hear this about fading British brands…Im passionate about Lucozade too, yes the golden bubbly stuff that made us feel better when we were sick kids.
    This morning on the BBc news programme they announced the Landrover/Jaguar plant in Solihull was doing so well now.The BBC presenter Bill said ‘but its not British’ (any more!) and the guru car guest said”yes but who cares…. its creating employment !” Is that the attitude of Britian now, the British Govt? ”who cares?” How very sad. OK rant over.

  3. I agree that overseas companies do produce jobs, but what happens to all the profits that are generated, they are moved out of the UK. Surely it must be in our long term interests to keep our companies British. Why do we always seem to be selling off the Crown Jewels ?

  4. Suzy batters says

    Mumps. lucozade. Chicken pox. Lucosade. Remember the gold foil top that could be flattened out with a pencil and made into a drinking Glass complete with stem and base?

  5. Lizzie Baker says

    I felt much the same when Cadbury was sold off to people who make rubbery processed cheese, I ask you!

  6. It’s all well and good being sentimental, but we need to address why these companies are up for sale in the first place, and then why they are unattractive to UK purchasers. I think the answer to both lies in an unwillingness by UK companies to invest back in the UK. Or perhaps company directors are just bobbing along complacently until an offer just appears and “why not?” accept. Sounds like the DTI needs to focus its attention, and letters from us could help out in that regard.

  7. Liz Riley says

    Liz has a point about UK company directors being complacent. But….afraid I am with James on the sentimentality here – and many other brands before. I’m much older than James and Emily but ‘the original’ Lucozade was a mega treat when you were REALLY poorly, together with being put in Mum’s bed with a hot water bottle and being given chicken soup or sandwiches with the crusts cut off! Ribena was a very very special treat with, perhaps, only one bottle bought a year for us four kids! I know sentimentality doesn’t do profit or create jobs…but it’s oh so good for the soul!

  8. Michelle Greenway says

    I agree with every word, it is so sad. My childhood contained both these British icons. Will this put our blackcurrant growers at any risk?

  9. Andrea Leggett says

    These are terrible losses. I am sure the average British person would not want to lose these brands (I don’t) but what can we do? Royal Mail is next. Selling the family silver to the highest bidder, it’s all about money and nothing else. None of it helps the British economy in the long run. Just look at what Kraft did to Cadbury’s. Terrible. Makes me very sad indeed.

  10. If the new owners increase sales and profits by exporting more they will create new jobs and a Global Brand not just a UK Brand – come on guys just look where LandRovers are selling now.
    I see Range Rovers and LandRovers in every country I visit including China and Russia and it says MADE-IN-UK on them. Our problem is that many company directors and investors can’t see past our cliffs of Dover!!
    We produce most of our goods in UK and hopefully will make them all here one day, however export and Global Branding is the only way to survive these days

  11. One problem lies in corporate governance. Copany directors see there main job as returning shareholder value. The shareholders themselves (including the directors of course!) can be from anywhere, so when the company as a whole comes up for sale or in this case some of its brands are sold they do indeed go to the highest bidder. A long term commitment to the UK economy seems very low on their agenda. How we address this is not an easy one. What can and should be done for the future though is that as companies become bigger and looking at floating, the first option they should look at is the worker owned/partnership model. This should be made by far the most attractive and easiest route to take. There are many benefits not least of which is stability and long term value to the British economy. Were say 50% of big companies like this, this sort of thing would be far less common and I am pretty sure we would all be a lot better off!

    PS Taking this further the government could I’m sure make it attractive/persuade! even shareholder owned companies to look at converting to this model rather than selling to foreign ownership.

  12. Rachel Coates says

    Will these products still be made in Britain or has production been moved also, Being from Yorkshire Lancashire border Vimto was our main stay cordial any way but still said to see these brands sold off.

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