The Hunts story began in 1912 when Ernest Hunt started farming at Blackmarsh Farm in Sherborne, The farm is now run by Charlie Hunt who is the 5th generation to run the farm. Blackmarsh Farm also hosts the infamous HUNTS FEST, our team party each year. Ernest had two sons, Stanley who took over the tenancy of Blackmarsh Farm in 1935 and Ralph who was unable to farm due to being injured in Gallipoli in World War 1. Stanley and Ralph married two sisters from Nether Compton, Cora and Elsie Willis. Ralph started Hunts Dairies in the 1920s selling milk from Blackmarsh Farm to local residents, the business then grew and when he died in 1948, Michael his son took over with the business wholesaling milk out of three sites - Sherborne, Yeovil and Taunton.
Michael was the driving force behind Hunts moving into Frozen Food and Ice-cream in the 1950s. Hunts built a 1000 pallet Coldstore at its Head office in Cheap Street Sherborne and at its peak had 8 freezers shops across the South of England including a site in Tinny’s Lane Sherborne. Michael then sold the dairy business and site in cheap street to Express Dairies and then built (at the time) one of the largest coldstores in Europe at our now Head Office at Ludbourne Road in 1976. Until Michael sadly passed away in May 1988 Hunts Frozen Foods became the leading frozen food wholesaler in the South of England with sites in Sherborne, Bristol and Winchester.
In 1969 Robert Hunt, Michael’s cousin took over the tenancy at Blackmarsh Farm from his father Stanley and ran the farming business until Peter his oldest son took over in 1990 and who still farms there today. Robert and Michael were very close with Michael and his wife Sybil being Godparents to Robert’s middle son Richard.
When Michael passed away in 1988, Sybil Hunt became Chair and the business went through a challenging period with many different management structures. Sybil appointed Richard Hunt to the Board in 2002 and in 2004 he took over as Managing Director. Richard’s vision aligned with his Godfather Michael’s, he wanted to grow the business by putting the customers first. In 2007 Hunts Foodservice purchased Sunnyside Distribution in Weston-Super-Mare and over the next 13 years continued to grow sales and move into Chilled, Ambient and Natural Foods. In 2013 Hunts opened its Redruth operation in Cornwall and in 2014 purchased Queenswood Natural Foods in Bridgwater.
Sybil attended monthly board meeting and was involved in the business up until her death in March 2020, aged 99 years old. Hunts is now 80% owned by Richard and his son Thomas who joined the business as Operations Manager in 2013 and was appointed Manging Director in September 2020. The other 20% is owned by Michael and Sybils relatives and family members who are represented on the board by Michael Douch (Non-Executive Director) who was Michael Hunts nephew and worked for Hunts for 36 years until retirement in May 2022.
In the last 18 months Hunts has re-branded as Hunts Food Group adopting the same vision its always had of manufacturing, selling and delivering great tasing food. The business bought Thorners based in Pylle in July 2021 and despite the pandemic reached record sales of £110,000,000 in March 2022.
The Hunt Family have always been passionate about delivering food across the South of England and the Midlands, looking after its team and supporting charities and local community wherever possible. It is important everyone at Hunts embodies our 4 values:- As a company we aim to be ‘Trustworthy and Dependable’, ‘Selfless and Adaptable,’ have ‘The Personal Touch’ and a ‘Relentless Determination’ to go the extra mile for our customers. These are mantras which we hold in high esteem and continuously strive to reach.