Lightbody is based in Hamilton, employing over 1,100 people. It is the UK’s largest supplier of celebration cakes to UK retailers, having entered that market in the 1990s, over 100 years after it was established, in 1885, as a family retail bakery business. It now has Disney, Universal, Weight Watchers and Thorntons cakes within its licenced portfolio, as well as own-label cake for supermarket retailers. Products also include a wide range of sweet snacks, slices and in-store bakery bites.
Established by John Lightbody in the late Victorian era, the founder and his two sons expanded into catering services after World War One. In the 1950s, John’s nephew Robert joined the business, expanding to twenty-six branches. By the 1980s, the firm had opened a bakery solely to create novelty and celebration cakes, and having captured the attention of the retailing industry, in the 1990s began a decade of transition towards high-volume manufacturing for that sector. Robert’s son Martin joined in 1987 and was at the helm in 2007 when the Lightbody business joined the Finsbury Food Group.
Finsbury’s Campbell’s business is now managed by the Lightbody team, as is the California Cake Company, which has relocated to the site in Hamilton. The family ethos of caring for its employees is still as strong as in the early days, and Lightbody benefits from a tremendous level of loyalty, with many employees of two, three, and even four decades’ service.