Walters’ Palm Toffee was one of the largest toffee manufacturers in Britain.
Nathan Baraf Walters (1867 – 1957) was a Jewish Romanian from Botosani. He established a toffee manufacturing business at Poplar, London in 1887. Palm Toffee was the main product, so-called due to its banana flavouring.
Nathan B Walters was naturalised as a British subject in 1899.
Production was relocated to a former aircraft factory at Westfields Road, Acton from 1926. It was one of the largest toffee manufacturing plants in the United Kingdom, located on a 1.5 acre site.
Walters’ Palm Toffee Ltd had a share capital of £240,000 in 1928. That year, export sales to Europe and the British Empire began.
Palm Toffee was advertised as produced from pure cane sugar and milk. The basis of its success appears to be that it was a high quality product available at a reasonable price. It appears to have been mainly produced for the working class market.
Around 800 people were employed at the Acton factory by 1935, including 200 night workers.
The factory was destroyed by a colossal fire in 1935. The blaze could be seen from miles away. Major Arthur Baraf Walters (1892 – 1973), a director of the company and son of the founder, collapsed at the scene from shock and had to be hospitalised. The factory was rebuilt.
The end of sugar rationing in 1954 saw a boom in confectionery sales. However by the end of the 1950s this boom was over, as an increasingly prosperous society began to favour chocolate. As a result of this financial pressure and stagnation, the industry began to consolidate.
Walters’ Palm Toffee became loss-making, and was acquired by J & P Holland of Southport, the largest toffee manufacturers in the world, for £385,000 in 1960.
J A & P Holland closed the Acton factory in 1961. Production of Palm confectionery was transferred to other Holland factories.
As Holland almost immediately closed the Acton factory, in essence what they acquired was the Walters’ Palm brand. Walters’ Palm certainly isn’t available today, and I would venture that few people remember it. In order to gauge how successful the takeover was, we need to ascertain how long the Walters Palm brand lasted, and ideally, how successful it was. Did Holland successfully increase its national distribution and export sales?