Booker Tate is a historic and well-known name in the sugar industry. Its acquisition by South African sugar group Tsb gives that group a knowledge base in sugar which would be hard to beat, says John du Plessis, MD of Tsb Sugar Holdings.
Du Plessis, who was previously (before the acquisition) a Booker Tate consultant, has worked in many countries.
Booker Tate has a long history in countries of the British Empire and later the Commonwealth. It was initially owned by British sugar group Tate & Lyle and Bookers as a knowledge-based company which served parastatals in third world/developing countries. Booker Tate was bought from Tate & Lyle by South African construction company Murray & Roberts in 2000; in 2004 it was bought by Tsb.
Booker Tate’s two offices in South Africa (in Malalane and Durban) now take responsibility for all operations in Africa, while its head office in Thame, England, takes responsibility for its businesses in the rest of the world.
Currently Booker Tate’s clients are in countries such as Swaziland, Uganda, Nigeria, Guyana, Belize, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Saudi Arabia.
Internationally, Booker Tate offers ongoing corporate and technical management – but as with consultants generally, its objective is to “work ourselves out of a job”, when the client company itself takes over (after the staff has been trained).
For instance, in Papua New Guinea and Belize, Booker Tate is currently relinquishing corporate management and reducing its involvement to technical management only.
In the past 50 years Booker Tate has completed over 1,500 assignments in more than 120 countries.
Du Plessis says: “There is probably no other company worldwide that has the same depth of knowledge in sugar and sugar cane production. However, the business model was to support parastatals, so the company had to reinvent itself.”
For Tsb, Booker Tate gave access to the world market and the most advanced technologies. Currently Booker Tate:
• Has huge agricultural information (for instance, soil analyses in Tanzania) which does not become outdated.
• Has skills which position Tsb to access opportunities and look at investments.