Gary and Ian

Our Company History


Gary and Ian Unsworth founded the company in 1981,  trading as  Independent Vending Supplies (IVS) and supplying ingredients to the Vending Industry. Initially the business manufactured and supplied “Dry” ingredients such as Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate and Soups, before adding a wet production line for cordials and syrups in 1984.

The business was approached by Nichols Plc in 1985, and was ultimately sold in January 1986,  Gary and Ian continuing to run the business as turnover reached £3 million. The company’s name was changed to Nichols Foods, to better reflect its broader activity base.

1990s – Rapid sales growth

By 1990 the business was employing 210 staff, had a turnover of  £20 million and was a major supplier to the Vending and Foodservice markets.

A further re-location was required in 1994, this time to Haydock in Merseyside,Duke of Edingburgh where the business is based today. A multi million pound investment created an impressive site of 70,000 square foot. The site was officially opened by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh in early 1995.

By the end of the millennium, the business was a multi-award winning, broad-based business supplying all sectors of the UK food and beverage market. It had a turnover of £45 million and employed over 300  people. In 1999, Gary left Nichols Foods to join the main board of Nichols Plc.

2000s – Back to Family Values

In 2001, an exclusive agreement was reached with Masterfoods to manufacture and distribute Beverage products, including Galaxy Hot Chocolate and Maltesers and in 2003, Nichols Plc made the decision to integrate the group’s co-packing arm, Stockpack, into Nichols Foods. The two businesses were later formally merged into the Nichols Foods business and the main site was expanded to 115,000 square feet.

November 2004 saw the business return to family ownership via an MBO.  This time, Gary, Ian and Jackie, were joined by Gary’s son, Rob Unsworth.  The business also changed its name to Aimia Foods and started on a major, multi-million pound re-investment programme to improve its manufacturing facilities.

In 2007, the business celebrated a major outsourcing contract win to pack cereal for a major blue chip client. This contract alone required an additional bespoke 65,000 square foot production site to be commissioned within a six month period. In that year the company was recognised by Guardian Newspapers as a Top 100 employer.

2010s – Blue Chip Partnerships

In 2010 and 2011, further outsourcing contracts were won including a global coffee player and a major UK blue chip client and new exclusive licensing and distributuion partnerships were formed most notably in the field of Energy Drinks under the No Fear brand. Company turnover continued to grow to £58m and a series of high manufacturing standard practices were put in place including BRC A+, paving the way for several large private label manufacturing agreements in the areas of coffee, hot chocolate and dilutable soft drinks.

2014 – Aimia Joins Cott Family

Aimia Foods was purchased by COTT, a global leader on soft drinks in May 2014.  Aimia represented COTT’s first venture into hot drinks and as such supported a strategy of diversificiation.  The company has continued to operate in it’s own premesis, focussing on it does best – value creation for our brand partners, customers and consumers and growing employment to 300 people, with a turnover of £70m.






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Aimia Voted Supplier of the Year

Aimia Foods has been voted supplier of the year by the respected vending buying business 'NIVO' in their Consumables category.  More »

NEW Milfresh milk sticks moo-ve into UK foodservice!

For the convenient no-fuss provision of milk, look no further than new Milfresh granulated 100% skimmed milk single-serve sticks from Aimia Foods, which are now available in UK foodservice. More »

Students Triumph at the “DOLMIO® & UNCLE BEN’S® Foodservice Student Catering Challenge” Live Cook-Off Final!

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Galaxy Hot Chocolate Fund Opens for its Sixth Year

  Research carried out by GALAXY Hot Chocolate, in partnership with UK Fundraising, revealed that eighty per cent of charities and community groups fundraise in any way they can to secure vital funds.  And when it comes to volunteers, eighty-five per cent of organisations say they could not exist without those people who go above and beyond the call of duty*. More »

New Baking Mixes from Mars Chocolate Drinks & Treats

Mars Chocolate Drinks and Treats has extended its range of cookie mixes with the launch of new GALAXY Double Chocolate Brownie Mix and SKITTLES Cookie Mix. More »

Student Catering Challenge – Cook-Off Live Final

  To support the hugely popular range of UNCLE BEN’S® and DOLMIO® ready-to-use Foodservice sauces and rice products, Aimia Foods has launched a brand new challenge aimed exclusively at catering students. More »

Christmas Wishes from Aimia Foods

  We traditionally host a Christmas card competition inviting the children of our colleagues and families to create a design, which we turn into a greeting card and send to our valued business partners across the UK. More »

School’s food prep time HALVED with DOLMIO® and UNCLE BEN’S® Ready-To-Use Sauces

  For school caterers requiring a consistent, quality and flexible ingredient, the DOLMIO® and UNCLE BEN’S® Ready to Use Sauces are must use products. Linda Banks, Catering Manager for over 900 pupils at Reddish Vale High School, explains how life in the kitchen has dramatically improved since purchasing UNCLE BEN’S® and DOLMIO®  Ready to Use Sauces: More »

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