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Former Cadbury chairman calls for return to ‘Quaker Capitalism’

Sir Dominic Cadbury says British firms could learn from the values of 19th century entrepreneurs

British businesses should adopt the brand of 'Quaker Capitalism' embraced by 19th century entrepreneurs, according to the former chairman of Cadburys.

Sir Dominic Cadbury, whose great grandfather founded the chocolate maker in 1824, claimed adopting Quaker values could help companies to regain their moral compass.

Speaking at an event to mark the 5th anniversary of Cass Business School's M&A Research Centre, he told how several British household names, including Cadburys, was rooted in the Quaker tradition.

"[Quakers] saw their business as a means to build a better world and their wealth as an asset to be used for the improvement of their communities and society," he said.

"Our Quaker predecessors who built many of Britain's first major businesses had a very clear moral code and compass. Debt and building purely for personal wealth were considered evil. Bankruptcy resulted in expulsion from the Society of Friends and brought disgrace."

In contrast, he said the financial crisis highlighted how shareholder value had now become the "sole criterion for business decisions to the exclusion of all other considerations".

He told how Cadburys had remained rooted to its Quaker principles by "putting people first and doing the right thing by our people whether employees, customers, consumers or society."

Sir Dominic, who the last member of the Cadbury dynasty to sit on the company board, also addressed the hostile takeover of his company by the US cheese maker Kraft.

Despite the controversy surrounding the takeover, he admitted he was impressed by the new owners. "I think Kraft has done a good job with Cadbury," he said. "I have no criticism of what Kraft has done since, and have been round the factory and been impressed with the levels of investment."

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