KP Foods – Made In Yorkshire | Volume 8

What is KP Foods?

KP Foods is a leading name in the UK crisp and nut snack market. Find out how this company became one of the biggest names in snack foods.

The Beginning

A business called Kenyon & Son started out in 1853 as a producer of confectionery, jams and pickles. They were based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

In 1891, they became a limited company. Their name changed to Kenyon & Sons and Craven Ltd.

This led to the business opening a second factory in Hull. Over the next fifty years, the company saw mixed fortunes.

They were often on the brink of collapse. Between 1900 and 1904, the directors took no payment. In 1917, they had to sell the Hull factory.

Luckily, the company’s fortune changed in 1943. Their new chairman, Simon Heller, saw to this.

He was a young man with a tough business attitude. He gained his experience from operating his own company in London and Leeds. They called this the Hercules Nut Company.

Over the next few years, he made deals with local market traders. This was to buy cheap fruit and vegetables to create the businesses jams and chutneys.

In 1948, they had saved enough money to buy a second-hand gas frying machine. They roasted and salt hazelnuts in 1952. They sold these to the local shops and cinemas under the Hercules brand.

Heller was a very hands on chairman. He often took home unfinished paperwork at the end of the day.

Also, he was known for never refusing an order. This led to the business starting to supply ground coconut to sweet manufacturers Basset.

In 1950, the company moved to a new premises. This was at the Eastwood Trading Estate in Rotherham.

Heller also set up his own sugar syrup factory in Barbados. The company was now known as Kenyon Produce.

A modern production line in a KP factory.

Becoming what it is today

In 1953, Heller left pickling behind. He instead moved into salted peanuts.

That was the year the business launched the twopenny packet of KP Nuts. This was the first nationally distributed brand of nuts. KP being the initials of the company.

They realised the nut trade was the way forward. This led to them stopping the production of jams and confectionary.

Instead, they introduced a number of new products. These included roasted and salted varieties of peanuts, cashews and almonds, mixed fruit and nuts, peanut brittle and peanut butter.

The business continued to grow throughout the 1950’s and 60’s. KP struck a deal with Marks & Spencer in 1962.

This deal was to produce their St Michael packs of nuts. M&S introduced KP to dated packaging, ensuring their customers got the freshest produce.

KP doubled their size of production between 1964 and 1966. By 1968, KP had a turnover of £5 million.

United Biscuits bought the business. Michael Heller joined the board and became managing director.

KP Snacks has introduced national favourites since the takeover. These include Hula Hoops (1973), Skips (1974), Discos (1979), Space Raiders (1987), Brannigan’s, Roysters (1992), Frisps (1989), McCoys (1985) and Phileas Fogg (1993).

KP merged with Intersnack UK in 2014. They kept their name and took their share in the UK snacks market to 14%.

They are still headquartered at the Eastwood site in Rotherham. Their production factory is nearby.

KP also have a second factory based in Teesside. This is to ensure one of the biggest producers of crisps and nuts remain close to the county of its birth.