The Story of William Arnott: Founder of a Biscuit Business

On this day, December 6 in the year 1827, one of the pioneers in biscuit manufacturing in Australia was born in Scotland, United Kingdom. His name was William Arnott, the founder of Arnott Biscuit Holdings.

William Arnott
William Arnott (Credit: Alfred Sharpe via wiki commons)

William Arnott was the eldest of eight children. As a teenager, he apprenticed to become a baker and confectioner. Together with his younger brother David, he immigrated to Australia at the age of 20. The brothers settled in the small flood-prone town of Maitland in New South Wales where they became well-known as bakers. Later, William tried his hand in gold mining but was unsuccessful. He went back to baking but his bakery business was destroyed by two great floods that devastated the whole town in 1856 and in 1862. His first wife died and he was deeply in debt.

In 1865, William Arnott moved to the emerging city of Newcastle where he built a home and a factory for biscuits and confectionary. He was able to pay his creditors in 12 months and prospered immensely to afford a trip back to Scotland with his second wife, leaving the management of the business to his sons.

When railroads interconnected the cities of Australia, William built distribution channels and his products became available nationwide. In 1894, he opened a new factory in Sydney, the largest city in Australia. In that year, the number of employees for both factories in Sydney and Newcastle rose to 800.

William Arnott died in 1901 at the age of 73. He married twice and had 12 children. Since 1997, Arnott Biscuit is owned by Campbell Soup Company. Its line of biscuits commands a huge 70% share of the Australian market.



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