Could this be the end of the British made AGA?

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Aga Rangemaster have been manufacturing their distinctive range of cookers in Coalbrookdale, Shropshire, since the 1930’s but the brand itself has a history stretching to the early 19th century. However, they are currently in talks with US firm Middleby Corporation, a large US based kitchen equipment business, for a takeover which has the potential to put many British jobs in jeopardy.

The Aga has become a status symbol of the British middle classes, adorning kitchens across the UK from a trendy London flats to palatial country piles. While the share price has rocketed at the news of potential US investment, as we have seen before, what is often good short-term news for shareholders generally equates to bad long-term news for the hundreds of factory workers and the British manufacturing landscape generally. Are we right to be worried? Three years after steelmaker Corus was taken over by Indian behemoth Tata Steel, its complex at Redcar, on Teesside, was closed and during the takeover of Cadburys Kraft promised that the factory at Keynsham, near Bristol would be safe only to change their mind once the deal was done. This is just two examples of what so often happens when the decision making leaves Britain.

A staggering 90% of directors of purchased British firms are out of office within a year, basically leaving the new owners a free hand and, arguably, little sympathy for the local workers. Both the chairman and the chief executive of Cadbury were out within a few days of Kraft’s takeover and production moved out of the UK inside of 3 years.

In any case,  even if the manufacturing remains in the UK and the jobs are secured the profits of these once very British institutions, following the takeover, inevitably leave our shores.

Selling the family silver

According to Dealogic, a financial-information firm, foreigners have spent $1 trillion on acquiring 5,400 British companies in the past decade. We suspect that many Britons now aren’t so sure that they have got a good deal. Many hold a basic anxiety is that foreign ownership will mean factory closures and job losses. As head offices close, power shifts abroad and Britain risks becoming a “branch factory” economy.

In short, like most, we are fed up with our family silver being sold from underneath us!

The obvious long-term solution to this is to offer some regulation of certain key British businesses. Indeed some American states have such protection from foreign takeover of businesses that are key to their economy. However, Aga Rangemaster are now teetering on the brink of US takeover what can done at this now?

Take Action!!!

Our reader, Mike, (who alerted us this this issue) has already written to his MP but, based on our dealings with Government officials, we are sceptical that they will listen to a lone voice. We would welcome any suggestions for action that might be taken highlight this cause.



    Look – sorry to be defeatist, but the reality is shareholder DO NOT CARE. After all they want best return for their investment. Emotions don’t come into it!! We lost Thorntons to Ferrero this week…….Unless you arrange a march of 1,000’s get the public’s imagination with or E-petitions or Media, the UK family silver will continue to be sold. WE ARE LOSING OUR BRITISH IDENTITY!

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  2. Start a petition to raise awareness

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  3. But the clowns at Westminster will wax lyrical about “attracting inward investment” rather than preventing the takeover of British industries.

    On a similar note, I have never understood why we celebrate a few jobs because foreign car manufacturers set up factories in Britain. I would much prefer it if the Chinese were slaving away in an Austin Morris factory in Beijing and sending the profits to the UK rather than making Nissans in Sunderland and creaming the profits back to China.

    Surely our best economic strategy would be to make everything we can in the EU then sit back and let other countries generate big profits for us. Bit like the Empire really 🙂

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  4. Hi. Thank you for the post, I think this is very important as they produce a wide range of goods in addition to the AGA range and have several factories. The rangemaster cookers for example cover quite a wide price range and they own fired earth with many of the paints of tiles being produced in the UK. A worrying amount of ‘consolidation’ options for new owners in fact!

    I have written to the board of directors urging them to consider other options such as a move to employee ownership on the John Lewis model or handing over to a board who are prepared to take the company forward under present ownership, whilst pointing out the perils of the future they are proposing for the company. I am also planning on writing to the business secretary and the shadow business secretary as that could certainly raise the profile (it will give them something to fight over) and most importantly some other business leaders who bang the drum for British manufacturing, such as Lord Bamford, Digby Jones and the Elliot family at Ebac. I am sure some of them may know the Directors of AGA Rangemaster personally.

    I would just like to say that if we can really bombard the board of directors with a great strength of feeling it may at least cause them to think twice about what they are proposing to do and the future of the company that they are presently responsible for.

    The point of bombarding political and business leaders is also valid, as it may finally begin to sink in that without changes to corporate law the future prospects for this countries economy will begin to look pretty bleak and their own particular gravy trains will dry up! The politicians will increasingly find tax money hard to come by and the directors will run out of directorships!

    Let’s just show them all that consumer power is what drives the success of these companies and not the short termism of ‘shareholder value’, when in fact the best shareholder value would come from a well run and sustainably growing company which ironically is exactly what this company has been doing until now!

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  5. Kenny Morrison says

    Where do I begin over the Middleby takeover of Aga Rangemaster . I could mention the loss of yet another british company, that in itself is tragic, but when I see grown men in tears because they did not know about the takeover, as there has been no discussion or meeting by management or the union with the main workforce of any kind, I find that tragic. There are monthly brievings, so why keep the workforce in the dark until an article appears in the Sun newspaper, then suddenly a notice appears on the notice board after the events. Between 500 and 600 people at any time work at the Leamington Spa factory, they deserve more than this, no wonder they feel jobs are at risk. We make a great product, I like most employees own a rangemaster which speaks for itself. Our Managers are fair, the work force as a whole the friendliest/hard working bunch of men and woman any comapny could wish for. So come on Mangement and the Union, keeps us informed face to face, not by the Sun newspaper and the notice board.

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  6. And today they asked us to volunteer for redundancy at Leamington Spa! Thank you Middleby for coming in and breaking up a British workforce!

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  7. I’m reading this rather late and so am curious about what has happened with this. I certainly hope AGA remains as it has been!

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    • Hi Jean – I am afraid to say that Aga was quickly sold off shortly after this post.

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