Salt adds balance

A part of the global Tata Chemicals group, British Salt, UK, retains its unique identity and diversifies its European business portfolio.

The product range of British Salt, the UK’s leading vacuum salt manufacturer, neatly complements Tata Chemicals’ existing focus on Living, Industry and Farming Essentials. Also, boosting the group’s already prominent position in the sector with the addition of a salt business in the UK helps balance the company’s market exposure.

Tata Chemicals Europe’s core business was historically commodity chemicals, prone to the fluctuations of economic cycles. Salt is protected from these cycles because of its broad spectrum of uses.

The history of British Salt began in 1919 with a salt manufacturing facility in Sandbach, Cheshire. The company built its existing plant in Middlewich in 1967.

British Salt’s long heritage is important to the company as Tim Brown, business manager - Salt explains, “Staff are proud to be part of such a long-standing institution. The name is synonymous with quality, service, and reliability of supply, its three core brand drivers."

British Salt is a respected brand in its home market. Despite the change in ownership the product name has been retained. Website (, packaging and transport livery all still bear the trademark. Tim says, “The British Salt brand carries significant value with our customers and so retaining it makes business sense. While employees recognise that they are now part of a much larger entity, with all the benefits that brings, they also feel great pride in the good reputation of British Salt.”

The company produces 400,000–600,000 tonnes of salt annually. The product range includes undried and pure dried vacuum salt in a variety of different grades, suitable for use in a variety of sectors, including the chemical industry, de-icing products, food ingredients, animal feed, textiles, tanning and water treatment.

Key customers include many household names such as Kelloggs, Unilever and Premier Foods, the makers of Hovis, Mr Kipling and Oxo.

Becoming a part of the global Tata Chemicals group in early 2011 opened a new chapter in the history of the company. Great efforts were made to minimise the effects of uncertainty.

A lot happened in a short period of time. An initial 90-day integration involved staff from across both businesses. By sharing knowledge and reviewing internal processes a road map for aligning those processes was created.

Internal communication was an important way of conveying the Tata philosophy and values. All 125 staff were kept up to date about progress through written communications, workshops and open-forum meetings. Employee representatives formed working groups to ensure involvement throughout the planning and implementation phases. Feedback was encouraged throughout.

With the integration complete, the focus is on capturing the commercial benefits the extended product portfolio offers. Managing director Martin Ashcroft explains, “British Salt plays a major part of the future of the business, as it will open up new and complementary markets.”

Sodium bicarbonate, a core product for TCE, is supplied to the food industry, and there is potential for synergy between the salt and bicarbonate sales teams to cross-sell a range of TCE products.

The integration is also safeguarding the supply side of the business and bringing potential for new business development.

Manufacturing soda ash requires large quantities of brine. TCE now has access to significant mineral reserves to make brine a part of the salt manufacturing process. This presents opportunities for the business to become self-sufficient with improved control over its supply chain.