Halls of fame: the world’s leading sweet

Hall’s is the leading sugar confectionery brand in the world. How did a cough drop from Lancashire conquer the global market?


Hall Brothers is established
Thomas Harold Hall (1872 – 1944) and Norman Smith Hall (1874 – 1946) were the sons of a Radcliffe, Lancashire millwright. They entered into partnership as jam manufacturers at the State Confectionery Works on Stanley Road, Whitefield, Lancashire from 1893. Production had been extended into boiled sweets by 1901.

Hall Brothers was incorporated as a public company in 1912, with the two brothers as joint-managing directors.

Caramel production began after the First World War. Jam manufacture ceased from 1924.

Thomas Hall retired from the business in 1926, and Norman Hall continued as sole managing director.

Hall’s Mentho-lyptus cough sweets are introduced
The Hall’s Mentho-lyptus trademark was first registered in 1927. As the name suggests, the cough drop was a mixture of menthol and eucalyptus.

Thomas Hall died in 1944 with a net estate valued at £74,248.

Norman Hall continued as managing director until his death in 1946. He was succeeded by his son, Roland Fletcher Hall (1901 -1969).

Hall Brothers (Whitefield) Ltd had a fully-paid capital of £100,000 in 1953. The company specialised in boiled sweets and caramels, and Hall’s “Mentho-lyptus tablets” was the principal product. 185 people were employed.

Hall’s cough drops were introduced to the United States in the 1950s.

A fire destroyed the Whitefield factory in the early 1960s, and the site was rebuilt.

Sales were extended into London and the Home Counties in 1961. Over 20 percent of production was exported by 1962.

Hall Brothers is acquired by Warner Lambert
Warner Lambert, an American pharmaceuticals company, acquired Hall Brothers for £1.3 million in 1964. Warner Lambert were keen to diversify, and were attracted by the company’s strong growth. Through its Adams subsidiary, Warner Lambert already owned the Trident chewing gum brand in America. The Hall Brothers directors, with 17 percent of the equity, supported the sale.

Hall’s held around a third of the British cough drop market by the mid-1960s.

A new factory was opened at Dumers Lane, Radcliffe, Lancashire in 1970. That same year, Hall Brothers received a Queen’s Award for export achievement.

Distribution of Hall’s in the United States increased significantly following the acquisition by Warner Lambert. Hall’s was the leading cough drop in the United States by 1972, and controlled 40 percent of the market by 1975.

Sales were developed in Latin America in the 1970s.

The Whitefield factory was closed in the late 1980s.

Warner Lambert controlled half of the confectionery market in Thailand by 1990, which represented the largest territory for Hall’s sales after the United States. In Thailand, as with much of the Southern hemisphere, Hall’s sweets were sold for refreshment, rather than as a medical product.

Hall’s Soothers, a milder version of Mentho-Lyptus with a liquid centre and throat-soothing properties, were launched in the United Kingdom from 1992. Sales quickly came to overtake the original product in its home market.

Hall’s was the highest-selling cough drop in the world, with annual sales of over $400 million, by 1993.

Subsequent owners and the end of production in Britain
Pfizer, a pharmaceuticals company, acquired Warner Lambert for $90.3 billion in 2000.

Cadbury Schweppes acquired Adams, including Hall’s, from Pfizer for £2.7 billion in 2002.

130 jobs were lost at the Radcliffe factory in 2004. The entire site was closed in 2005, with the loss of a further 310 jobs. The site was closed as 80 percent of its output was exported to the Americas, and it made economic sense to relocate production there.

Cadbury became a part of the Mondelez snacks group from 2012.

Hall’s accounts for 20 percent of medicated sweets sales worldwide, and is the leading sugar confectionery brand in the world according to Euromonitor. Its three largest markets are the United States, Brazil and Thailand. Total sales amounted to $700 million in 2018.

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5 thoughts on “Halls of fame: the world’s leading sweet”

  1. Hi, I have a couple of Hall’s State Toffee tins which are probably 100 years old and wondered if they were from your company and if you were interested in buying them from me.

  2. In the 1980s the UK business, owned then by Warner Lambert, was almost 100% CTN. With a few lucky breaks we became No1 in the multiple grocery sector too, beating the might Mars! Great fun. Amazing factory. Great people. Such a shame Halls has gone the way of all British industry.

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