SOME HISTORIC CORRESPONDENCE
Some interesting correspondence dating back to the last decade of the 19th Century has been saved by the timely action of Bert Slater and Les Sharp.
Prelude to a merger
All handwritten, the first four letters date from early February 1893 and refer to the impending amalgamation of A.M. Perkins & Son Ltd. and Werner & Pfleiderer, London.
The first item is a draft of a "Preliminary basis of a proposed arrangement for the amalgamation of A.M. Perkins & Son Ltd. and Werner Pfleiderer, London". This was based on a draft produced by Paul Pfleiderer on 14th December 1892. It was sent by a Mr Clulow (believed to be the solicitor for WP&P) to Horace Sandars who, with Major George Deane was at that time "conducting" A.M. Perkins &Son Ltd., reaching him on 1st February 1983.
The draft discusses how the share capital was to be divided, the royalties to be paid during the 5 years after the amalgamation, the directors' remuneration and that Paul Pfleiderer and Horace Sandars should act as joint Managing Directors. It is not clear whether the handwriting is that of Paul Pfleiderer or of Mr Clulow.
There followed a letter from Horace Sandars to Paul Pfleiderer, dated 2/2/1893, querying some of the points raised in the above draft – the sum to be paid in cash by each company at the end of each five year period following amalgamation, how subsequent Managing Directors were to be appointed and how much each company should contribute towards the working capital of the new organisation. The letter requested that these points be considered before "the final interview" to be held at 5 o'clock on the following day. This letter is signed by Mr. Sandars but is obviously not in his handwriting.
On the day after "the final interview" – 4th February, 1893 – Mr Sandars wrote again to Paul Pfleiderer confirming agreement on the level of Working Capital, voting rights and the appointment of Directors. It is clear that Mr. Sandars wrote this letter himself.
The fourth letter is dated 11th February 1893 and is handwritten by Paul Pfleiderer. The original is very difficult to decipher and both it and a transcript are shown above.
Paul Pfleiderer agrees with most of Mr. Sandars' comments but firmly shifts the responsibility back onto A.M. Perkins & Son for the accuracy of any financial figures quoted in the draft agreement.
It is perhaps possible to sense through this exchange of correspondence that the new arrangement was not totally to the liking of A.M. Perkins & Son Ltd, and a more detailed account of these discussions can be found on pages 18-19 of Augustus Muir's "History of Baker Perkins" (See Where to find more information). This makes clear that the benefits of the transaction did appear to be somewhat one-sided.
The new company – Werner, Pfleiderer & Perkins Limited - was duly registered on 2nd June 1893.
An early example of "Competitor Analysis"
The fifth item is from September 1897 and records a "Competitor Analysis" visit by Mr F.C. Ihlee to a bakery in Islington to view an installation of 3 Drawplate Steam Pipe Ovens built by Melvin & Son, Glasgow. It is interesting to note that some of the basics of a "Marketing" approach were in place long before the "BISMARK/BAKEMARK" revolution at Westwood in the early 1970's (See ). When comparing the Melvin & Son ovens with those made by WP&P, Mr Ihlee notes:
"We have failed to discover any features about this oven which do not exist in the WP&P drawplate oven, the only difference between the two being the arrangement of the flue for downdraught. Otherwise anything that might be looked upon as a distinctive feature has been faithfully copied".
An early Contract with a "Performance Guarantee" clause
More Milestones along the way towards amalgamation
These "Forms of Proxy" might seem at first glance rather uninteresting. They refer to "An Extraordinary General Meeting" to be held on 17th July 1918.
The first item of note is that one of the forms is signed by Gertrude Pelmore. Following the ill-feeling generated at the start of the First World War by the association of the name Werner Pfleiderer & Perkins with the "enemy" (See ), the Pfleiderer family – who still held financial control - changed their name to Pelmore.
Charles Edward Pointon, the father of John Pointon (also mentioned on the "Form of Proxy") signed the second form. Father and Son developed the Pointon Dough Divider that was at the heart of the success of the company (see – "The History of Baker Perkins" by Augustus Muir – pp 25 to 28).
At first sight it might seem odd that the form is headed – in an inked stamp – "Werner, Pfleiderer & Perkins Ltd". We know that, as part of the attempt to get rid of "the irritant to many customers", the company name was changed on 1st July 1915 to Perkins Engineers Ltd – but this "Form of Proxy" was for a meeting to be held in mid-1918.
Augustus Muir provides an explanation -"(On 1st July 1915) At the price of £28,422, Perkins Engineers took over patents and trading rights; but Werner, Pfleiderer & Perkins continued to exist, a mere ghost of its former self, nominally owner of the premises and plant, but controlling none of the work or workmen save in the small chemical department".
In the final paragraph of his "Wartime Co-operation" chapter, Muir provides the reason for the Extraordinary General Meeting to which the above Proxy Forms refer -"On 17th July 1918, the firm of Perkins Engineers was sold back to Werner, Pfleiderer & Perkins, which changed its title on the same date to Perkins Engineers; and so, after a quarter of a century, the old name with its German associations went for ever out of existence".
One month after the above meeting, a joint directors' meeting of the two companies (Perkins Engineers Ltd. and Joseph Baker & Sons Ltd.) passed minutes approving "the principle of union". The Contract for Sale was completed on 20th July 1920.
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