Bettys & Taylors: ‘A great Yorkshire family business’

Proudly describing itself as ‘a great Yorkshire family business’, it is fair to say that Bettys & Taylors is a much-loved institution.

The North Yorkshire-headquartered company, which has just celebrated its centenary, is home to three iconic brands – Yorkshire Tea, Bettys with its famous tearooms and Taylors of Harrogate coffee.

It was founded by Frederick Belmont’s family, who arrived in Harrogate from his native Switzerland.

Bettys & Taylors is a fourth generation family business. One family member, Lesley Wild, today chairs the group board.

The group, which employs 1,400 people, has seen its turnover grow to more than £200m in the year ending October 31, 2018.

During that year it started a major investment programme, expanding its tea and coffee manufacturing site in Harrogate and investing in new equipment and operating systems.

Its popular Yorkshire Tea brand produced more than 5.5 billion teabags last year.

Rachel Fellows, group communications director and a member of the group board of directors, says: “I’ve worked in both family and non-family businesses and there is a real difference.

“My experience of family business is that decisions are made with the very long-term in mind. I’m acutely aware that the business was born 100 years ago and sprang from someone’s entrepreneurial spirit and vision.

“Both family members and non-family leaders like me want to ensure the business we’re a part of thrives for generations to come.”

Fellows says that the group always looks to recruit people who “share and are inspired by our values.”

She adds: “People at all levels have strong and productive relationships with the owners of the business – we meet them often and they can help remind us all of the ethos that lies at the heart of what we do.”

Flexibility is also important. Fellows says: “Ensuring thoughtful decisions and good governance don’t turn into bureaucracy is one of our underpinning principles.

“But it’s important to recognise that we appreciate the value of considered and collaborative decision-making, that sometimes take longer, as well as agile and timely choices.”

She goes on: “If, like us, yours is a family business that has thrived for a number of generations, the important thing is to stay true to your values and your vision.

“Remaining relevant is terrifically important, but as you take the business forward, what you do needs to relate to your long-held ethos.

“We want to stay relevant for our customers but we never want to be swayed by the latest short-term trend or fad – we think that by doing this we’ve been able to retain our uniqueness.

“We think family businesses are special and our customers know that we’re still owned by the founding-family.

“However, it’s the quality of our products and the experience and service we offer that really speak for themselves and, we believe, keep people coming back.”