* In talks with major soft drinks and fast food companies
* Group also investing in other sectors
By Jonathan Saul
LONDON, Dec 5 Lloyd's Register, the world's
oldest ship classifier, is expanding in the faster growing food
safety and certification sector partly to dilute its exposure to
the volatile shipping business, its chief executive said.
Lloyd's Register, which was founded in a London coffee house
in 1760 and is known for verifying safety and environmental
standards in ships, is also moving into other areas such as the
energy, waste and water sectors.
Shipping is going through one of its worst ever downturns.
"Because of the fluctuating market in marine it is a very
difficult business if you are just in marine. We can smooth that
out (with other businesses)," CEO Richard Sadler told Reuters.
"Food is our fastest growing sector and that is really an
interesting sector for us," he said in an interview on
The British firm provides food safety and certification
services, taking advantage of the globalised nature of food
supply chains that require high standards to avoid
"We have food specialists working for us and they ensure
that management of the food through all the different stages is
such that by the time it goes from the farm to the fork it will
be safe for consumption," Sadler said.
Lloyd's Register's clients include the Mars Group - whose
brands include M&M's, Uncle Ben's rice and Wrigley's chewing gum
- as well as U.S. agri company Cargill.
Sadler said it was in talks with a major fast food producer
and a leading soft drinks distributer, declining to name them.
The group generated total income of 893 million pounds ($1.4
billion) in the year ending June 30, 4 percent higher than the
previous year. Its management systems division, which includes
the food business, recorded a 3.7 percent rise in income of
176.8 million pounds in 2011/12.
Sadler said the group, which has offices in 78 countries and
employs 7,900 people, had a projected income target of 1.5
billion pounds by 2015/16, which would be boosted by providing
technical risk management services in other areas such as water,
energy and waste.
In the past four years the company has invested 170 million
pounds in acquiring offshore drilling and risk management
specialist companies, such as Holland's ModuSpec, Norway's
Scandpower and U.S. based WEST Engineering, to give it an edge
in the energy services market.
"Independent assurance of supply chain risk - whether it's
for oil, water or food - these are all linked together," Sadler
said. "That is why the opportunities are enormous."
Lloyd's Register, structured as a commercially operated
company, is 100 percent owned by a charity. The proceeds of its
profits are used to fund educational and vocational
institutions, especially on the technology and science side.
"Without profit you cannot be sustainable," Sadler said.