Jacob's is a brand name for several lines of biscuits and crackers in Ireland and the United Kingdom. The brand name is owned by the Jacob Fruitfield Food Group, part of Valeo Foods, which produces snacks for the Irish market. In the UK, the brand name is used under license by United Biscuits, part of Pladis.
The originator of the Jacob's brand name was the small biscuit bakery, W & R Jacob, founded in 1851 in Bridge Street, Waterford, Ireland by William Beale Jacob and his brother Robert. It later moved to Bishop Street in Dublin, Ireland, with a factory in Peter's Row. A factory in Aintree, Liverpool was opened in 1914.
Jacob's Bishop Street premises was one of several prominent Dublin buildings occupied by rebels during the Easter Rising of 1916
In 1922 a separate English company was formed, W & R Jacob (L'pool) Ltd. The two branches separated, with the Dublin branch retaining the W & R Jacob name while the Liverpool branch was renamed Jacob's Bakery Ltd. In the 1970s, W & R Jacob in Dublin merged with Boland's Biscuits to form Irish Biscuits Ltd. and moved to Tallaght, Ireland. The Liverpool factory joined Associated Biscuits in 1960, which was purchased by Nabisco in 1982.
In 1990, the two companies once again came under common ownership and became Jacob's Biscuit Group when they were acquired by the French company Groupe Danone. In July 2004, Groupe Danone and United Biscuits announced that they had made an agreement for the latter to acquire Jacob's Biscuit Group. With the acquisition of Groupe Danone's biscuit division by Kraft Foods, the production and sales of Jacob's biscuits in Malaysia are done through Kraft Foods Malaysia. However, days later Groupe Danone, United Biscuits, and Fruitfield Foods announced that Jacob's Biscuit Group would be split, with United Biscuits acquiring only the UK portion of the Group and Fruitfield Foods acquiring the Ireland portion. Fruitfield Foods was subsequently renamed the Jacob Fruitfield Food Group and is now part of the Valeo Food Group. Valeo Foods was established in September 2010 through the merger of Batchelors and Origin Foods.
In 2009, after 156 years of making biscuits in Ireland, Jacob Fruitfield shut its Tallaght plant. 220 jobs were lost while the company retained around 100 staff in a variety of roles.
The well-known activist and trade union organizer Rosie Hackett worked for some years as a messenger for Jacob's. At that time the working conditions in the factory were poor. On 22 August 1911 Rosie helped organize the withdrawal of women's labor in Jacob's factory to support their male colleagues who were already on strike. With the women's help, the men secured better working conditions and a pay rise. Two weeks later, at the age of eighteen, Rosie co-founded the Irish Women Worker's Union (IWWU) with Delia Larkin. During the 1913 Lockout Rosie helped mobilize the Jacob's workers to come out in solidarity with other workers, they in turn were locked out by their own employers. In 1914 her Jacob's employers sacked her over her role in the Lockout.
The Aintree site, which opened in 1914, was Jacob's first English factory, and remains the primary producer of Jacob's products in the UK, including Cream Crackers and Twiglets. The factory produces over 55,000 tonnes of products each year and, in 2015, received a £10,000,000 investment from United Biscuits to further boost output. At the same time, however, United Biscuits claimed it had to suspend company sickpay because of "record levels of absenteeism" at the Aintree factory, where 800 workers are employed.
- The History of Advertising Trust (2011-06-10). "1958 Jacobs Club Biscuit (00_00_1958 HAT_20_01)". Archived from the original on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
- Liverpool Record Office (2011-08-13). "W & R Jacob Ltd.; 1839-". Archived from the original on 2012-05-09. Retrieved 2011-08-13.
- "Groupe Danone Sells Biscuit Operations in the UK and Malaysia" (Press release). Groupe Danone. 2004-07-23. Archived from the original on 2006-05-16. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
- "UB to Acquire Jacob's" (Press release). United Biscuits. 2004-07-23. Archived from the original on 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
- "Groupe Danone Has Just Finalized the Sale of its Biscuit Operations in the Republic of Ireland (W & R Jacob Ltd.) to Fruitfield Foods Ltd" (Press release). Groupe Danone. 2004-08-03. Retrieved 2007-10-30.[permanent dead link]
- "Update on UB's Acquisition of Jacob's" (Press release). United Biscuits. 2004-08-03. Archived from the original on 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
- "Fruitfield Foods Buys W&R Jacob" (Press release). Jacob Fruitfield Food Group. 2004-08-03. Retrieved 2007-10-30.
- "Origin Foods & Batchelors merge to form Valeo". RTÉ News. 2010-09-10.
- RTÉ News (2007-10-01). "Legal Battle Over Fig Roll Packaging". Retrieved 2016-10-13.
- RTÉ News (2007-10-03). "McVitie's Ordered to Change All Packaging". Retrieved 2016-10-13.
- RTÉ News (2009-05-22). "Jacob's ends production after 156 years". Retrieved 2009-08-06.
- "A working class hero, and a woman to boot: A child of the Dublin tenements, Rosie Hackett put her life on the line for justice". Retrieved 14 November 2014.
- "United Biscuits celebrates centenary at Jacob's Aintree factory". United Biscuits. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
- Jacob's Biscuits Ireland official website
- Jacob's brand on Valeo Food Group official web site
- Jacob's brand on United Biscuits official web site
- Jacob's Crackers (United Biscuits) official web site
- Groupe Danone official web site
- National Archives of Ireland article "Jacob's Biscuit Factory, 1916"
- "Rosie Hackett and the Union Women of Jacob's Biscuits"
- "Jacob's ends production after 156 years"