Worth a mint: Barker & Dobson

Barker & Dobson became one of the largest confectioners in Britain.

Joseph Dobson (1801 – 1864) began trading as a confectioner at 75 Paradise Street, Liverpool from 1834. Using the maiden name of his wife, he commenced trade as Barker & Dobson.

In 1861 Joseph Dobson was declared bankrupt. One of the trustees of the estate was George Bassett, confectioner of Sheffield.

By 1870 Barker & Dobson was based at 6 Duke Street. Their main business was in imported French confectionery.

In 1889 the business was taken over by Henry Dobson Jacobson (1867 – 1961), a grandson of Joseph Barker. Jacobson was to prove the impetus behind the subsequent growth of the company.

The firm relocated to Hope Street and began to manufacture confectionery for themselves.

By 1916 the firm had premises at Whitefield Road, Liverpool.

Barker & Dobson needed more capital to expand, and was incorporated as a public company in 1919.

By 1924 premises had been established at London as well as Liverpool.

In 1926 a disused tram depot on Whitefield Road, Liverpool was acquired and converted into a factory.

In 1928 Barker & Dobson had a authorised share capital of £500,000. There were factories at Franklin Place and Whitefield Road. There were branches in Manchester and Birmingham. Over 1,200 people were employed.

The managing directors were H D Jacobson and Percy Isidore Jacobson (1873 – 1961), grandsons of the founder, although H D Jacobson appears to have been the senior partner.

The company was acquired by Scribbans-Kemp in 1952. Barker & Dobson was profitable, but the firm had been struggling to meet demand for its products, and required an increase in capital. By 1955 Scribbans-Kemp had built Barker & Dobson a new factory and new offices.

P I Jacobson died in 1961 with a gross estate of £353,003. H D Jacobson died in 1961 with a gross estate of £865,359.

Scribbans-Kemp changed its name to S K Holdings in the early 1970s. However its name was soon changed to that of its better-known subsidiary, Barker & Dobson.

In 1972 Waller & Hartley of Blackpool was acquired, and with it the Hacks and Victory V cough sweet brands.

From 1974 Barker & Dobson distributed Ferrero products such as Tic-Tacs in the British market.

Barket & Dobson suffered heavy losses in the mid-1970s. In 1976 a stake in Hacks Malaysia Senirian Berhad was disposed of.

In 1981 Barker & Dobson was forced to remove the 0.2 percent chloroform component from its Victory V sweet recipe. Sales immediately slumped by 25 percent.

The Barker & Dobson factory in Dublin closed in 1982.

The Barker & Dobson factory in Everton closed in 1982, with the loss of about 370 jobs. 200 white-collar staff remained in Everton. Only Bury and Nelson, both in Lancashire, remained as large factories within the firm. There were also smaller factories in Dundee and east London.

Barker & Dobson sold its newsagents business, with 150 outlets, to Guinness for £10 million in 1985. A high-class chocolate shop on Bond Street, London was retained.

That year Keiller, the butterscotch and marmalade manufacturer, was acquired for £4.9 million.

The highest selling lines in 1985 were Hacks, Victory V and Everton Mints.

In 1986 Barker & Dobson acquired Budgens supermarkets, with 148 outlets, from Booker McConnell for £80 million.

In 1988 Alma Holdings acquired the heavily loss-making Barker & Dobson from Budgens for £9.75 million. The deal made Alma the fourth largest sugar confectionery manufacturer in Britain.

In 1992 Alma entered receivership, and Hacks and Victory V were sold to Cadbury for £3.1 million, who relocated production to their Trebor Bassett factories. Barker & Dobson and Keiller were acquired by Portfolio Foods for £3 million.

In 2015 Hacks remains a leading confectionery brand in Malaysia.

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