Edward Sharp created one of the largest toffee manufacturers in the world.
Edward Sharp (1854 – 1931) ran a grocery business in Maidstone in Kent. He was a dedicated Congregationalist. His modest grocery business employed one man and one boy in 1881.
Sharp began to sell homemade sweets in his shop from 1878, principally toffee and nougat. The sideline prospered, and Sharp divested his grocery business and opened a sweet factory in a former roller skating rink on Sandling Road, Maidstone.
From the turn of the century, Kreemy Toffee secured the business a nationwide reputation. A new factory, the Kreemy Works, was opened in 1912 on St Peter’s Street, Maidstone.
Sharp’s success was credited to improved methods of manufacture, careful advertising and a national increase in toffee sales during and after the First World War.
The business claimed to be the largest toffee manufacturer in the world in 1922, and Sharp was made a baronet. Sharp’s wife died in 1925, and to widespread surprise, he married his secretary in 1928, by which time he was 74 years old.
Sharp died in 1931 and left an estate valued at £156,367.
Sharp’s son Herbert Edward Sharp (1879 – 1936) became a managing director of the company. He died in 1936 and left an estate valued at £79,943. The grandsons of the founder became joint-managing directors.
During the Second World War and into the 1950s, restricted supplies of raw materials forced Sharps to concentrate on the export trade.
Sharps was one of the foremost confectionery manufacturers in Britain by 1951. By this time the highest selling product was Super Kreem toffee.
Edward Sharp & Sons was acquired by Trebor, a London confectionery manufacturer, in 1961. Trebor was acquired by Cadbury in 1989.
The Maidstone factory was closed in 2000 as part of an efficiency drive. Over 300 jobs were lost. The factory had produced Softmints, toffee and fudge. Production was relocated to Chesterfield and Sheffield.
The brand was relaunched as Sharps of York in 2004. The Sharps brand was acquired by Tangerine Confectionery in 2008. The Sharps brand had been quietly dropped by 2016.