At Sir Kensington’s, our mission is to bring integrity and charm to ordinary and overlooked food. Today we have news to share with you about a partnership that will enable us to fulfill this mission better than ever before. Sir Kensington’s will be joining the Unilever family to continue our work of making condiments with character and helping define the next generation of good food in America. This partnership enables us to create greater change for more people, and allows us an unparalleled platform of resources and support on which to do our work.
We have long admired Unilever’s business principles, especially their focus on the totality of their impact, exemplified by their Sustainable Living Plan. In short, this ethos acknowledges the unique responsibility that a consumer products business has to society. It is an understanding that in addition to creating profits, a business should be conscious of its impact on the customer’s well-being and the environmental and societal impact of how those products are produced. This is an ethos we share, and it is how we define integrity in our mission.
“Our shared ethos that acknowledges the unique responsibility that a consumer products business has to society.”
When Kees Kruythoff, President, Unilever North America and Matthew McCarthy, VP of Foods for North America, approached us with an invitation to join the Unilever family, we knew this decision could not be taken lightly. When we first met them, our business was not for sale. We had planned on running Sir Kensington’s independently for the foreseeable future, not believing our young company was ready to move beyond our stewardship and responsibility. Over the course of the following months, it became clear that their organization was the ideal long-term home for Sir Kensington’s.
As we got to know them, our understanding was confirmed: this company is the real thing, true to their word. It also helped that their storied history began in Victorian England (from which our fabled Sir Kensington hails). Learning about the great Lord Leverhulme and Sir Thomas Lipton (both real people!) as well as contemporary integrations like Seventh Generation and Ben & Jerry’s, encouraged us that Sir Kensington’s would be in good company and under long-term care with Unilever.
“It also helps that their storied history began in Victorian England (from which our fabled Sir Kensington hails).”
In considering this decision, we were conscientious of the outcome to the three groups to which we have equal responsibility:
First was our customers, likely most of you who are reading this now.
You have loved our products for the same reason we’re proud to make them: their integrity and charm. Crucially, what was important to us in this decision is that the integrity of our products measured by the quality standards of our ingredients, and the taste of the product, could never be compromised.
“The integrity of our products measured by the quality standards of our ingredients, and their taste, can never be compromised.”
You may wonder, what is the company that makes Hellmann’s doing acquiring Sir Kensington’s, and why should we trust them? The truth is, food is changing in this country and it’s changing for the better. As a company, Unilever is looking for Sir Kensington’s to help them define the future of good food. This need for change is not a new revelation. Ranked number one on Dow Jones’ Sustainability Index, they responsibly source their ingredients and work with suppliers for higher animal welfare standards, such as 100% cage free eggs for Hellmann’s.
“As a company, Unilever is looking for Sir Kensington’s to help them define the future of good food.”
We count among our customers our trade partners — the retailers, restaurants, hotels, and all who stock our condiments. We only seriously considered this decision after calling upon other entrepreneurs who had taken this journey with Unilever to make sure these win-win partnerships would be upheld. We contacted our suppliers who count Unilever as a customer, ensuring that they had been treated with the professional integrity we hold ourselves to.
The second group we considered was our team.
Our first company value states our secret ingredient is people. Our responsibility to them goes beyond contractual terms, and it’s our team more than anything that makes what we create special. We made this decision to ensure that we could improve the team’s capacity to develop their talents, better enable them to succeed in their roles, and have a greater contribution to our mission. The resources afforded by this decision will allow our team to have a greater impact and sustained livelihood. Importantly, we, Mark and Scott, will continue to run the business as founders and leaders of the team for the foreseeable future, extending our responsibility beyond this transaction and ensuring a thoughtful and gradual transition that maintains the integrity of the company and products for generations to come.
“We will continue to run the business as founders and leaders of the team for the foreseeable future.”
The third and final group to consider was our investors.
Could we fulfill our responsibility and recommend this as the best possible outcome for them, and the precious resources they entrusted us with? After all, these were the adventurous few who took a chance on us — and on what may have seemed like an eccentric idea at the outset. After much counsel and consideration, the answer here too, was yes.
So, what comes next is both a new beginning and a seamless continuation of the daily learning that began seven years ago. From here, we will work together with Unilever’s world class team to better serve our customers and reach a wider audience with our work — all with the shared principles that have made this partnership possible.
When we started this business, we began with a deep love of food and a belief that when business is done right, it has the power to change society for the better. That has not changed. Thank you for all of your support and advocacy in the name of good food and good business. We’re just getting started, and we know that Sir Kensington would be proud.