W & H Marriage & Sons Ltd

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Shortlisted for: Streamlining supply to direct higher volume of product to stores.


Not only is flour an essential ingredient, but home baking provided huge comfort and distraction to many during the pandemic – and one company, W & H Marriage & Sons Ltd, rose to the challenge of keeping up supplies.

Marriage’s was founded by 17-year-old twins, William and Henry, in 1824 and has been milling flour in Chelmsford, Essex, ever since. Today, the company is owned and run by the fifth and sixth generations of the Marriage family with 110 employees, and mills a wide range of award-winning artisan, organic and specialty flours combining traditional techniques with the best of modern milling technology.

The company sources wheat from trusted farmers within 30 miles of Chelmer Mill, having worked closely with farming families for generations, as well as nearby farms owned by the family.


When the pandemic started, there was unprecedented demand for home baking flour in the UK, triggering panic buying and constraints due to the amount of packing capacity for small flour bags.

While there was plenty of flour available, the industry struggled to pack it into small bags fast enough; most flour milled in the UK goes in bulk tankers and sacks to commercial bakers and food manufacturers and packing lines are not interchangeable.

Marriage’s switched focus to milling home baking flours while wholesale bakeries and the hospitality industry were closed or experiencing slow trade.

“During the peak of the pandemic, Marriage’s increased production at the mill to 24 hours a day, six days a week, and took on extra employees to enable it to run more hours to maintain supply of flour to customers, including the East of England Co-op,” explains Director, Hannah Marriage.  “Our team worked incredibly hard, putting in extra hours, working nights and weekends, including bank holidays throughout the coronavirus crisis, and as key workers have been part of the effort to keep the nation fed.”


With its online shop seeing demand 10 times higher than normal, the company had to temporarily close it to work through the backlog of orders and took on extra retail staff.  Everyone pitched in to deal with hundreds of enquiries from home bakers wanting advice on recipes and flours.

Commenting on being shortlisted, Kati Vardon, Marketing Manager, says: “This is such an honour for us. We are proud to be a local East of England Co-op supplier. It would mean so much for us to win this award as it is voted for by the public. To be recognised by those using our products at home every day would be a lovely boost for the company and staff who have worked so hard to ensure supplies have been maintained during unprecedented times.”