All posts by T Farrell

Fuelled growth: a history of F Perkins

How did F Perkins become the largest manufacturer of diesel engines in the world?

Establishment of F Perkins
Francis “Frank” Arthur Perkins (1889 – 1967) and Charles Wallace Chapman (1897 – 1979) decided to develop a lightweight diesel engine for use in trucks and lorries. They were convinced that a diesel engine could be made more reliable and efficient than their petrol equivalents.

Frank Perkins (1889 – 1967)

F Perkins was established at Queen Street, Peterborough in 1932. The company had a capital of £10,000, four directors and three employees. One engine a week was produced in the first year.

Frank Perkins broke the high speed world record for a diesel engine with a 100mph run in 1935.

Over 600 engines a year were produced by 1938.

F Perkins built marine engines for the Royal Navy during the Second World War.

Post-war expansion
F Perkins anticipated an increased demand for diesel engines in the post-war period, and built a new factory at Eastfield, Peterborough. The business operated 75 acres of factories by 1950.

F Perkins was converted into a public company in 1951.

F Perkins was the largest manufacturer of diesel engines in the world by 1953, with an annual production of 60,000. Almost 9,000 people were employed.

A diesel engine designed for motor cars was introduced from 1958.

Subsequent ownership
F Perkins began to appear vulnerable as the large vehicle manufacturers began to produce their own diesel engines. The business was acquired by Massey-Ferguson, the largest manufacturer of farm tractors in the world, for £4.5 million in 1959. Perkins was contracted to supply Massey-Ferguson with all of their engine requirements.

F Perkins employed 10,000 people by 1967, including 7,000 in Peterborough. 1,500 diesel engines could be produced every day.

Massey-Ferguson was renamed Varity Corporation from 1982.

Around 400,000 engines a year were built across 15 different countries by 1992.

4,000 people were employed in Peterborough in 1997.

LucasVarity sold Perkins to Caterpillar, the largest manufacturer of construction equipment in the world, for £803 million in 1998.

Perkins remains one of the largest diesel engine manufacturers in the world.

Great Scot: James Buchanan & Co

James Buchanan helped to establish sales of Scotch whisky in England, and died as one of the richest men in Britain. Buchanan’s remains the third highest-selling Scotch whisky brand in the world.

James Buchanan helps to establish Scotch whisky sales in London
James Buchanan (1849 – 1935) was born to Scottish parents in Ontario, Canada.

James Buchanan in 1923

Buchanan relocated to London, England from 1879 where he worked as a salesman for Charles Mackinlay & Co, a well-known Scotch whisky distributor.

Buchanan struggled to earn sufficient money, and lived in a bedsit and worked 16 hour days. His grit and perseverance ultimately paid off when a friend loaned him the capital to form his own whisky wholesale operation in 1884. He established an office at Bucklersbury in the City of London.

Most whisky sold in London at the time was Irish, but Buchanan created a Scotch blend that could be relied on for its consistency and quality. “The Buchanan blend” was the first Scotch whisky to really appeal to the English palate. W P Lowrie & Co of Glasgow was contracted to produce the product.

Buchanan succeeded due to his efficiency and hard work. He also had the gift of the gab; he was a quick thinker and a great talker. Buchanan was the first person to offer free whisky samples to publicans. He charmed landlords, who he convinced that his whisky offered health benefits.

Buchanan established his reputation when he was awarded a contract to supply the House of Commons with Scotch whisky from 1885. Buchanan was soon marketing the “House of Commons blend” to the general public.

Buchanan won the gold medal for Scotch whisky at the International Exhibition in Paris in 1889.

Parliament took umbrage at Buchanan’s use of its brand in order to sell whisky, and as a result, the Buchanan contract was ended in 1893.

Buchanan acquired the freehold of the Black Swan distillery at Holborn from Sir Alan Young for £90,000 in 1897. The premises became his head office and storage and bottling warehouse.

Buchanan entered into whisky production for himself with the acquisition of the Glentauchers distillery in Glenlivet in 1898.

James Buchanan & Co received Royal Warrants to supply Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales in 1898.

Buchanan had won back the contract to supply Parliament by 1901.

Buchanan’s blend was packaged in a black bottle with a white label. Customers referred to it as the “black and white whisky”, and the product was rebranded as Black & White from 1902.

James Buchanan & Co was registered as a limited company in 1903.

James Buchanan & Co acquired majority control of W P Lowrie & Co in 1906. The purchase included the Convalmore distillery on Speyside.

Buchanan opened the largest bonded warehouse in Britain in Glasgow in 1907.

James Buchanan & Co had acquired the Bankier distillery at Kilsyth by 1908.

James Buchanan & Co held the largest reserves of Scotch whisky in the world by 1913.

All reference to the House of Commons was removed from Buchanan’s branding from 1915.

Merger with John Dewar & Sons; acquisition by Distillers
James Buchanan & Co merged with John Dewar & Sons, a rival Scotch whisky manufacturer, to form Buchanan-Dewar in 1915. The move was a defensive one against rising spirits taxation and increasing raw materials costs. The merged business held the largest reserve of whisky stocks in Scotland, and had a combined capital of £5 million.

James Buchanan was raised to the Peerage as Baron Woolavington from 1922.

Mackie & Co of Glasgow, best known for the White Horse brand, was acquired in 1923.

Domestic sales of Scotch had entered into sharp decline following the First World War following a rise in spirit duties. Buchanan-Dewar was acquired by Distillers Co in 1925.

The Inland Revenue estimated that Buchanan’s annual income amounted to £485,000 a year by 1929, making him the third richest man in Britain.

James Buchanan & Co held over 18 million imperial gallons of aged whiskies in 1931, the largest stock in the world. Black & White was made with a blend of whiskies that had all been aged at least eight years.

Buchanan died in 1935. His gross estate was valued at £7,150,000 and was largely dedicated to finding a cure for cancer.

High demand for Black & White
Black & White had received a Royal Warrant to supply Queen Elizabeth II by 1955.

Black & White was the second highest-selling Scotch whisky in the United States by 1961. It also held a strong position in the German market.

British sales of Black & White amounted to 500,000 cases a year by 1967.

James Buchanan & Co was awarded the Queens Award To Industry for export achievement in 1966 and 1967. Its products were sold in 168 countries.

Demand for Black & White outstripped capacity, and a new blending and bottling plant was opened at Stepps, Lanarkshire, outside Glasgow, in 1969.

The Glentauchers distillery was closed in 1985.

Acquisition by Guinness
Distillers was acquired by Guinness to form the third largest drinks business in the world in 1986. The bottling plant at Stepps was closed with the loss of 340 jobs in 1987. The James Buchanan & Co head office at St James’s Square in London was also closed, and administrative operations were centralised at Hammersmith.

South America accounted for nearly one third of Black & White sales by 1996.

Guinness merged with Grand Metropolitan in 1997 to form Diageo.

Buchanan’s is the third highest-selling premium Scotch whisky in the world. Its key markets include the United States, Mexico, Colombia and Brazil.

Goldmine: a history of Cavenham

How did Jimmy Goldsmith build the third largest food company in Europe?

Early life of Jimmy Goldsmith
Jimmy Goldsmith (1933 – 1997) was born in Paris. His father was Major Frank Goldsmith, a former British Member of Parliament, and one of the leading hoteliers in France during the interwar period.

Jimmy Goldsmith was educated at Eton, where he found himself somewhat of an outsider. He was not keen on academics, but he soon developed an interest in gambling. At the age of 16 an accumulator win netted the schoolboy a payout of nearly £8,000, an immense sum at the time.

Goldsmith left Eton at the age of 17 and spent five years engaged as a professional gambler. He eventually entered into debt, which his father cleared on the condition that he enlist in the army. Goldsmith completed his service with the rank of lieutenant in 1953.

Embed from Getty Images

Goldsmith enters the pharmaceuticals business
Following his army service Goldsmith returned to France to discover that the family fortune had been depleted. He entered into business as a pharmaceutical product wholesaler, and found success marketing cortisone tablets.

Goldsmith eloped with Isabel Patino, the daughter of a Bolivian tin magnate, in 1953. His young wife died from complications due to childbirth in 1954. Goldsmith was ridden with grief, and threw himself into his work with an almost manic energy.

Goldsmith began to manufacture generic medicines such as antacids at prices that undercut the large drug producers. The business was successful and profitable, but it grew so fast that it ran into liquidity issues, forcing Goldsmith to sell out to Laboratoires Roussel in 1957.

Goldsmith later commented, “in those days I understood very little about finance”. The loss of his first business instilled in Goldsmith a fear of failure which was to subsequently motivate him.

Goldsmith next won the licence to market Prednisolone, an anti-inflammatory drug, in Britain.

Goldsmith partnered with Selim Zilkha (born 1927) to acquire Lewis & Burrows, a 28-branch pharmaceutical chain, from Charles Clore (1904 – 1979) in 1959. Goldsmith relocated to London in order to manage the business.

Zilkha and Goldsmith next acquired the 50-strong chain of W J Harris, pram and nursery furniture specialists, in 1961. The business was renamed Mothercare.

Goldsmith sold his retail holdings stake to Zilkha in order to concentrate on pharmaceuticals in 1962.

Goldsmith enters the food industry
Goldsmith introduced a range of slimming foods in France, in direct imitation of Metrecal, a product that had already enjoyed considerable success in the United States.

Goldsmith acquired 20 percent of Procea, a British manufacturer of slimming foods, in 1963.

Charles Clore introduced Goldsmith to Sir Isaac Wolfson (1897 – 1991), who provided expansion capital.

Goldsmith acquired full control of Procea, as well as controlling stakes in Carson’s (chocolate), Carr’s of Carlisle (biscuits) and Holland of Southport (toffee) in 1964.

Goldsmith had identified all of the companies as mismanaged, with strong brands that were under-utilised. Carson’s was loss-making, Holland was troubled, and Carr was under pressure from larger biscuit manufacturers. Goldsmith was able to acquire the companies at depressed prices. Goldsmith would later comment:

I wanted to break into business in a big way and the only way I could do so with my limited resources was to buy up down-at-heel companies.

Goldsmith floated his interests as Cavenham Foods in 1965. The company employed 6,000 people and produced 15 percent of all toffee sold in Britain. Goldsmith intended to develop Cavenham into a food multinational along the lines of Unilever and Nestle.

Goldsmith modernised Cavenham in order to render the business profitable. He installed a professional management team, with staff poached from blue chip consumer goods companies such as Procter & Gamble, Mars and Beechams. Six factories were immediately closed in order to leave five sites, which were modernised. Less popular product lines were discontinued, with marketing and research concentrated on the highest-selling products. Non-core assets, such as the Holland of Southport paper and plastics division, were divested.

Singleton & Cole of Birmingham, a tobacco wholesaler, was acquired in 1966. The business had entered into difficulties after the large supermarket chains had established their own wholesale networks. The merged business was the largest confectionery and tobacco wholesaler in Britain.

Singleton & Cole was sold to Palmer & Harvey for £2.4 million in order to reduce debt in 1968. The wholesale business was unprofitable and had proved a drain on capital.

The R S McColl newsagent chain was acquired, with 420 shops, for £900,000 in 1971.

Goldsmith had a mixed relationship with the British press. In the Evening Standard he was described as having “something of the bumptious undergraduate about him”. A Daily Telegraph profile regarded him as, “a highly amusing man with a distinctively forceful style”. The Economist argued that he was “regarded as altogether too theatrical, always pulling a deal out of a hat here, a continental connection there”.

Goldsmith acquires Bovril
Goldsmith identified Bovril as another business with mismanaged and underutilised assets. He particularly liked the three leading brands of Bovril, Marmite and Ambrosia. Goldsmith explained:

we think we can do more with the existing business. Bovril’s profits have not really moved since 1961. Last year they made nine percent on net tangible assets; we made 50 percent. The difference speaks for itself.

A 50 percent stake in the Cavenham retail operation was sold to Southland Corporation for £3.3 million in order to finance the acquisition. The Economist described the deal as “derisory” and a “Goldsmith bloomer”, but Cavenham needed the cash urgently.

Bovril was acquired for £14.5 million in 1971 (around £500 million in 2020 prices). The deal was transformational for Cavenham.

Eight of Bovril’s ten board members departed shortly after the takeover. Overheads were decreased. Research and development funding was redirected to support the three main brands.

Bovril had valued its dairy interests on its balance sheet at next to nothing, but Goldsmith sold them shortly after the takeover to Grand Metropolitan for £6.3 million in cash. Goldsmith strenuously denied accusations of asset stripping.

Goldsmith expands his retail interests
Cavenham acquired Allied Suppliers, the largest food retailer in Britain, for £92 million in January 1972. Allied’s Lipton tea subsidiary was sold to Unilever for £18.5 million. Goldsmith had the Allied Suppliers property portfolio revalued at £55 million.

The Cavenham biscuit interests, with 2,500 employees, were sold to United Biscuits for £4 million in July 1972. The business had lacked sufficient scale, with just 2.5 percent of the biscuit market.

1600 freehold properties, mostly acquired with the Allied Suppliers purchase, were sold for £17.5 million in 1973. Two office buildings in the City of London were sold for a further £11.7 million.

A 50 percent stake in Grand Union, the ninth largest food retailer in the United States, was acquired for £25.5 million in 1973.

Cavenham had a market capitalization of £79.7 million by 1974, and was the third largest food company in Europe, after Nestle and Unilever.

Goldsmith constantly reassessed what was central to his business. Procea was sold to Spillers for around £1.5 million in 1975.

Goldsmith received a knighthood in 1976.

Cavenham extended its ownership of Grand Union to 80 percent in 1976.

Cavenham employed 66,000 people by 1977.

Goldsmith’s attempt to create a food multinational along the lines of Unilever ultimately ended in failure. He realised that he could never hope to dominate the food industry, but he could become a significant force in retail. Bovril was sold to Beechams for £42 million in 1980.

Goldsmith resigned as chairman of Cavenham in 1980.

Cavenham Confectionery was sold to its management for around £8 million in 1981.

Allied Suppliers was sold to Argyll Foods for £101 million in 1982 in order to fund Goldsmith investments in the United States.

Grand Union was sold to its management for $1.2 billion in 1989.

Goldsmith retired from business in 1990. Fortune magazine assessed his net worth at $1.3 billion in 1991.

Goldsmith died in 1997. His obituary in the Financial Times characterised him as a “corporate buccaneer”.

Lessons on brand custodianship

This post looks to explore why some well-established brands fail.

Introduction: give me some sugar
Henry Tate (1819 – 1899), the proprietor of Tate & Lyle sugar, once described the nature of his highly lucrative business: “[I] pull on a string and gold sovereigns come tumbling down”. Tate & Lyle sugar is still a highly valuable brand today, and it remains a truism that great fortunes remain to be gleaned in the consumer goods sector.

Once a brand is well-established it seems relatively straightforward, as Mr Tate implied, to sit back and watch the money amass. But that negates to reflect the intrinsic difficulties of brand management. What I find to be more inherently illustrative is when a well-established brand declines and ultimately fails. What causes the brand to fail, and what lessons can it demonstrate?

Family troubles
Quarrelling families are a subject as old as time. However they can cause havoc for a family-run enterprise. Nathan Baraf Walters (1867 – 1957) developed Palm Toffee and became one of the largest toffee manufacturers in Britain. However he refused to pass on the business to his four sons. The sons contested their father’s will in the Probate Court, and the QC reflected, “unhappily this family was riven with difficulties and troubles for years. I dare say the deceased bore his share of responsibility for them”. The business was subsequently subjected to a takeover by Holland’s toffee, a larger rival. The Walters factory was immediately closed, and the Palm Toffee brand disappeared.

Gin fails to blossom
The Distillers Co acquired much of the English gin industry in the early twentieth century. Marketing strength was consolidated behind Gordon’s, their leading brand, and long-established brands such as Booth’s (est.1770s), Boord’s (1774) and Vickers (1820) withered from neglect.

Fading sparkle
Showerings was a small brewery business in rural Somerset. They introduced Babycham sparkling perry in post-war Britain to immediate success. Showerings operated the largest bottling plant in the world by the late 1950s. At its height, 90 percent of licensed premises stocked Babycham. But annual sales plummeted precariously from 144 million bottles in 1977 to just one million in 1993. The conventional explanation suggests that Babycham ceased to be fashionable. Was this a failure of marketing or was a decline in the public perception of the brand intrinsically inevitable?

You butter believe it
James Epps introduced instant cocoa to the mass market. At its peak Epps & Co processed half of all cocoa imports into Britain. But the business failed to respond to rivals such as Cadbury and Rowntree, who introduced the Van Houten press to remove some of the unpalatable cocoa butter from the product. The business declined over time, and was eventually acquired by Rowntree, and the Epps brand disappeared.

Conclusion
Whilst far from exhaustive, this post sketches some reasons why brands can fail: management and family disputes, consolidation, poor marketing and a failure to respond to consumer demand.

Procter’s gamble: Thomas Hedley & Co

How did Procter & Gamble challenge Unilever’s control over the British soap industry?

Thomas Hedley
Thomas Hedley (1809 – 1890) was born at Harnham, Northumberland. He settled in Gateshead from 1826.

Hedley entered into partnership with John Greene (1800 – 1870), to form John Greene & Co, soap manufacturers of City Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, from 1838.

John Greene left the partnership in 1860 and Thomas Hedley assumed full control. The name of the business was changed to Thomas Hedley & Co. He was assisted by his brother, Edward Armorer Hedley (1826 – 1909).

Thomas Hedley served as Mayor of Newcastle in 1863-4. He was also a director of the Consett Iron Co from 1869 until his death, and was closely identified with its success.

Thomas Hedley & Co employed 26 men and eight boys by 1871.

Thomas Hedley died in 1890. He was succeeded by Edward Armorer Hedley as the principal of the business.

Fairy soap is introduced and subsequent growth
Thomas Hedley & Co was incorporated with a capital of £30,000 in 1898. Up to fifty different types of toilet, household and manufacturing soaps were produced.

Fairy soap had been introduced by 1899.

Thomas Hedley & Co had a capital of £70,000 in 1905. Soap, candles, varnish and chemicals were manufactured. It was a private company, and the shareholders all resided in Newcastle upon Tyne, Stocksfield and Gosforth.

Fairy soap was reformulated from 1926; low-cost rosin was removed and replaced by olive oil, which was advertised as leaving hands feeling smoother and softer. Thomas Hedley acquired olive groves and established a packing plant in Andalusia, Spain.

Thomas Hedley & Co had an issued capital of £500,000 by 1929. Output of soap amounted to 750,000 boxes a year, with annual sales of between $2.5 million to $3 million. Thomas Hedley & Co was the largest soap manufacturer in the North of England, and the largest independent soap manufacturer in Britain. Hedley products enjoyed distribution across Britain and Ireland, and the company claimed around two percent of the British soap market. As well as the Newcastle site, there were two subsidiary factories in Birmingham and one at Wath upon Dearne, Yorkshire.

Acquisition by Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble, the largest soap manufacturer in North America, acquired the majority of the shares in Thomas Hedley & Co of Newcastle in 1930. It was the first overseas acquisition for Procter & Gamble, and was motivated, in part, by a desire to divert the attention of Lever Brothers from the American market by challenging the rival soap manufacturer on its home turf. The takeover also provided Procter & Gamble with entry to the Southern European market, which Thomas Hedley & Co supplied with soft soap.

Procter & Gamble doubled the capacity of the Newcastle factory and increased production. Oxydol, a Procter & Gamble washing powder, had been introduced by 1931. Soon, Thomas Hedley & Co was manufacturing all Procter & Gamble products sold in the British and European markets.

Procter & Gamble introduced one week paid annual leave for employees at Thomas Hedley. Previously holiday had been unpaid.

Two new factories were established on a ten acre site at Trafford Park, Manchester from 1934. It was of a similar size, if not larger, than the Newcastle site. Manchester was chosen due to its accessibility for deep water shipping via the Manchester Ship Canal, and for its large consumer market. Tennis courts and athletic fields were provided for the use of staff.

Growing sales of the three leading brands; Fairy Soap, Oxydol and Sylvan Flakes, a soap flakes product, saw the Trafford Park site increased to 15 acres by 1937.

Dreft soapless detergent was introduced from 1937.

Thomas Hedley & Co claimed a 15 percent share of the British soap market by 1938, largely due to strong investment from Procter & Gamble.

A view of the West Thurrock works (2011)

A 15-acre site was acquired at West Thurrock in Kent, and a large factory was established in 1940. The site was chosen for its strong distribution links, and its proximity to the London consumer market.

About two thirds of after-tax profits were reinvested in the business between 1930 and 1956.

Procter & Gamble claimed 25 percent of the British soap and detergents market by 1949.

Tide, an all-purpose synthetic detergent, was introduced from 1950. Accompanied by an unprecedented marketing campaign, Tide was a great success, and its sales challenged that of its Unilever rival, Persil, by 1953.

Daz washing powder was introduced from 1953.

Thomas Hedley & Co was the largest producer of synthetic detergent in Britain by 1954. Success was in part due to a significant investment in press advertising.

A 45 acre site was acquired at Whitley Road, Longbenton in 1954. Research and development was transferred there, and later production. The site was chosen by mapping the homes of the workforce and finding the location that would be most convenient for their daily commute.

Thomas Hedley & Co sold $48 million worth of detergent a year by 1955. 3,700 people were employed by 1958.

Flash, a household cleaner, was introduced from 1958.

A recreation of the original Fairy Liquid bottle (2009)

Fairy Liquid was introduced from 1959. It was the market leader in washing-up liquid by 1961.

Recent history
Thomas Hedley & Co was renamed Procter & Gamble Limited from 1962. The change was intended to assist with export sales, as the Procter & Gamble name had greater recognition overseas.

Fairy Liquid held 37 percent of the British washing-up liquid market by 1968.

Procter & Gamble Ltd was the largest Procter & Gamble subsidiary in 1969. It was the production centre for the British and Scandinavian markets. The principal products were domestic packaged soaps and detergents.

Ariel biological detergent was introduced from 1969. Bold, a low suds biological detergent was introduced from 1972. Head & Shoulders shampoo was launched in 1973. Lenor fabric conditioner was introduced from 1974. Crest toothpaste was introduced from 1975.

Procter & Gamble was the third-largest business in the North East of England as measured by turnover by 1987. Over 1,000 people were employed in the region.

The Procter & Gamble UK head office was relocated from Gosforth, Newcastle to Weybridge, Surrey from 2000.

The Newcastle site concentrates on the manufacture of fragrances for Procter & Gamble as of 2010. The Manchester site produces Pampers, and the West Thurrock site produces soap and detergents.

Bubble market: William Gossage & Sons

William Gossage & Sons was the largest soap manufacturer in the United Kingdom, and possibly the world, by 1877.

Early life and Stoke Prior
William Gossage (1799 – 1877) was born in Lincolnshire. After serving an apprenticeship to his uncle in Chesterfield, Gossage commenced trade as a chemist and druggist at Leamington Spa in Warwickshire.

William Gossage (1799-1877)

Gossage was appointed chemist to the Stoke Prior Salt and Alkaki Works in Worcestershire from 1830. Gossage sank a shaft that was to prove highly successful in pumping brine. He was eventually appointed a director and managing partner of the business.

Gossage commences the manufacture of soap in Widnes
Gossage established a soda-making plant at Widnes, Merseyside, from 1850. He also produced alkali from crushed limestone. He soon gave up soda-making, and commenced the smelting of copper, which was to prove successful.

Soap prices increased during the Crimean War (1853 – 56) due to inflated tallow prices. Gossage began to manufacture a low-cost alternative soap of similar quality using sodium silicate and palm oil from 1855.

Gossage introduced blue mottled soap from 1857. Mottled soap served no superior utilitarian function, but gave the soap the pleasant aesthetic appearance of marble.

William Gossage was considered a model employer, and was highly popular with his workforce. He employed 80 men by 1861.

The two sons and T S Timmis enter the business
Alfred Howard Gossage (1831 – 1904) and Frederick Herbert Gossage (1832 – 1907), sons of William Gossage, had entered the business as partners by 1861.

Thomas Sutton Timmis (1830 – 1910) joined the business from 1865, and became a partner.

Thomas Sutton Timmis (1830 – 1910) c.1892

A H Gossage retired in 1866.

William Gossage & Sons held a contract to produce dry soap for R S Hudson from 1869.

William Gossage & Sons was the second largest soap manufacturer in Britain by 1870.

William Gossage retired from business due to ill health from 1874.

Frederick Gossage and Thomas Timmis were to drive the business forward. Gossage had the technical expertise, and Timmis possessed a keen aptitude for finance.

William Gossage & Sons was the largest soap manufacturer in the United Kingdom, and possibly the world by 1877, with an output of no less than 500 tons a week.

William Gossage & Sons employed 500 men and 40 boys by 1881.

Over 200,000 tons of mottled soap were produced between 1862 and 1887.

William Gossage & Sons held a contract to produce Sunlight soap during the early days of Lever Brothers. Frederick Gossage was said to have taught William Lever how to make soap.

Gossage and Timmis converted the business into a private limited company, William Gossage & Sons, from 1894.

William Gossage & Sons produced 1,400 tons of soap a week by 1897, and was probably the second largest soap manufacturer in the world after Lever Brothers. The business focused on the overseas trade, and had a large market in China.

Frederick Gossage died with a net personalty of £709,396 in 1907.

Thomas Timmis died in 1910 with a net personalty valued at £643,247.

Thousands of tons of blue mottled soap were produced annually by 1911. William Gossage & Sons accounted for 57 percent of all soap exported from the United Kingdom, and held 33 percent of the foreign soap trade worldwide.

Acquisition by Brunner Mond
Brunner Mond, the largest chemical manufacturer in the world, acquired William Gossage & Sons and Joseph Crosfield & Sons of Warrington, a rival soap manufacturer, in 1911. Brunner Mond was a major supplier of raw material for the soap industry, and the merger was motivated by an intent to create a strong competitor against the increasingly dominant Lever Brothers.

The Widnes site covered about fourteen acres by 1914. About 1,500 people were employed. Exports were strong throughout the British Empire, and in the Far East.

Sale to Lever Brothers
Lever Brothers acquired William Gossage & Sons and Joseph Crosfield & Sons in 1919.

William Gossage & Sons employed around 1,300 people in 1928.

The Widnes site was closed in 1932, and production was transferred to Lever Brothers-controlled plants in Bromborough and Warrington.

William Gossage & Sons was merged with Joseph Watson & Sons, a Leeds soap manufacturer that was also controlled by Lever Brothers, to form Watson & Gossage from 1937.

The English patent: Holloway’s Pills

How did Holloway’s Pills and Ointment became the highest-selling medicines in the world?

Thomas Holloway establishes his patent medicine business
Thomas Holloway (1800 – 1883) was born at Devonport, the son of a baker. He was apprenticed to a chemist.

Thomas Holloway (1800 – 1883)

Holloway relocated to London from 1828. He established himself as a merchant on Liverpool Street from 1836. One client was a Felix Albinolo (1785 – 1872), the proprietor of Albinolo’s ointment, a patent medicine. The success of Albinolo’s product inspired Holloway to introduce an equivalent.

Holloway’s Family Ointment was introduced from 1837. Holloway’s Pills, a mild laxative, were launched two years later. Holloway was the first person to advertise medicines on a massive scale, and it was this that would cement the success of his products.

George E Barclay was granted the sole licence to manufacture the pills and ointment in the United States. Between 1857 and 1858 his sales totalled $250,000.

Holloway’s Pills and Ointment claimed the largest sales of any medicine in the world by 1862.

Thomas Holloway became a very wealthy man. He retired in 1873 and, as he was without issue, appointed his brother-in-law, Henry Driver (1830 – 1909) as manager of his business.

Thomas Holloway dedicated much of the rest of his life to charitable ventures; he established the Holloway Sanatorium at Virginia Water, Surrey at a cost of £250,000 in 1873. He later went on to found the Holloway College at a cost of £350,000.

Holloway College in 2015

Death of the founder and gradual decline of the business
Thomas Holloway died with an estate valued at £550,000 in 1883.

Sole control of the Thomas Holloway business was assumed by Henry Driver, who added the Holloway name to his own to become Henry Driver Holloway.

An analysis of Holloway’s Pills conducted for the British Medical Journal in 1903 found the product to consist of aloes, rhubarb, saffron, sodium sulphate decahydrate and pepper. The pills would have likely had a laxative effect. Holloway’s ointment was found to consist of turpentine, resin, olive oil, lard, wax and spermaceti.

Holloway’s Pills was registered as a company in 1929, with a modest capital of £5,000. Holloway’s Pills had lost considerable market share to Beecham’s Pills, whilst falling prey to an increased scepticism among the public regarding patent medicines.

Holloway’s Pills was acquired by Yeast-Vite Ltd, which itself came under the control of the Beecham Group in 1931.

Production of Holloway’s Pills and Ointment ended in 1951.

Oranges and lemons: Samuel Hanson & Son

Samuel Hanson & Son traded independently for over 200 years.

The early years of the business
Samuel Hanson established premises at 47 Botolph Lane in the City of London from 1747. The Hanson family are believed to have originated from Yorkshire.

Hanson traded as a fruit importer, mostly dealing in oranges, but also importing lemons and dried fruits from the Mediterranean area.

Samuel Hanson’s son, also called Samuel Hanson (1744 – 1829), took control of the business from 1763. He continued the trade in oranges. The business remained modest yet profitable.

Samuel Hanson III
Samuel Hanson (1804 – 1882), grandson of the founder, became the senior partner from 1825. He was a dedicated Evangelical Christian.

Nathaniel Smith Machin (1775 – 1837) had joined the business by 1830. His daughter was married to Samuel Hanson in 1832.

Batger & Co, the sugar refining and confectionery business of Bishopsgate Street, London, was acquired in 1856. Frederick Machin, son of N S Machin, was appointed manager of Batger & Co.

Frederick Machin had assumed full control of Batger & Co by 1864.

Reginald Hanson (1840 – 1905) joined his father in the business from the 1860s.

Merger with Jones, Evison & Barter
Samuel Hanson & Sons merged with Jones, Evison & Barter, tea and coffee merchants of Borough, Southwark, to form Samuel Hanson, Son, Evison & Barter from 1871. Samuel Hanson took the opportunity to retire, and the business was operated by Reginald Hanson, Edward Evison (1833 – 1907) and Henry Barter (1831 – 1889).

A branded coffee, Red White & Blue, was introduced from 1872. It was to prove one of the most successful product lines.

The Botolph Lane premises were enlarged and refronted in 1882.

Samuel Hanson died as a highly wealthy man in 1882. His personal estate was valued at over £134,000.

Edward Evison left the partnership in 1885, and the firm was continued by Reginald Hanson and Henry Barter under the name Samuel Hanson, Son & Barter. Reginald Hanson was the senior partner. The firm traded in fruits, tea, coffee, sugar, spices and wine.

Frederick George Ivey (1845 – 1914) was admitted into the partnership from around 1885.

Supported by able partners, Reginald Hanson was able to pursue outside interests. He served as Sheriff of London in 1881-82 and as Lord Mayor of London in 1886-87. He was knighted in 1882 and created a baronet in 1887.

Sir Reginald Hanson (1840 – 1905) in 1899

Henry Barter died in 1889 with a net personalty valued at £149,000.  Upon his death the name of the firm reverted to Samuel Hanson & Son. That year Thomas Cameron Tanner (1848 – 1930) became a partner.

Francis Stanhope Hanson (1868 – 1910), son of Sir Reginald Hanson, and his cousin, Percy Machin (born 1866), entered the firm as partners from 1899.

Sir Reginald Hanson died in 1905 with a gross estate valued at £495,416.

Edward Evison died in 1907 with an estate valued at £142,916.

Red, White & Blue was one of the most successful branded coffee products in Britain by 1907.

Francis Stanhope Hanson was knighted in 1909. He died the following year, and left a net personalty valued at £159,055. He was the last member of the Hanson family line to work for the business.

Hundreds of people were employed in 1914. The active partners were Frederick George Ivey, Thomas Cameron Tanner, Percy Machin and R C Tanner.

Frederick George Ivey died in 1914 and left an estate valued at £70,667. He left £40,000 for charitable causes and about £10,000 to Samuel Hanson & Son employees.

Noel Percy Machin (1898 – 1977) joined the firm in 1921. He became a partner from 1929.

Thomas Cameron Tanner died in 1930 with an estate valued at £191,094.

Samuel Hanson & Son is incorporated
Samuel Hanson & Son was incorporated as a private limited company in 1932. Noel Percy Machin was made joint-managing director.

A large trade in tinned lobster from Newfoundland had been established by the early 1930s. Tinned salmon was imported from British Columbia from around 1933.

A large canning factory was established at Toddington, Gloucestershire, from 1934.

Samuel Hanson & Son went public from 1935, with Percy Machin as chairman. The head office was located at the same site as 1747. Share capital amounted to £550,000.

The company had approximately 14,000 regular trade customers on its books. The business had never sustained an annual trading loss.

Samuel Hanson & Son largely supplied the armed forces during the Second World War. Red White & Blue coffee production continued for the duration of the conflict.

Financial difficulties and acquisition by Cerebos
Samuel Hanson & Son entered into difficulties during the Second World War and in the post-war period. Owing to a national dollar shortage, the company was forced to end its £1 million a year trade in California canned fruits and in Alaskan and Canadian tinned salmon, with a consequential loss of around £100,000 a year in gross profit.

Following the Second World War Samuel Hanson & Son acquired Home Grown Chicory, a chicory processing plant at Lakenheath, Suffolk.

Samuel Hanson & Son employed 500 people by 1947.

Samuel Hanson & Son paid its last ever dividend in 1949. Despite its economic troubles, Samuel Hanson & Son was able to maintain its reputation for high quality goods.

Samuel Hanson & Son had largely made the transition from importing foods to manufacturing finished products by 1951.

Samuel Hanson & Son was subject to a friendly takeover by Cerebos for £195,000 in cash in 1965. By this time Hanson was engaged in citrus processing, canning, chicory processing and wholesale distribution. Hanson also owned a South African subsidiary in Durban.

References
* The British Newspaper Archive
* The Times Digital Archive
* The Financial Times Digital Archive
* Hansons of Eastcheap by George Godwin (1947)

Andrews Liver Salts

Andrews Liver Salts became the highest-selling antacid product in the world.

Scott & Turner introduce Andrews Liver Salts
William Henry Scott (1860 – 1922) and William Murdoch Turner (1862 – 1932) were proprietors of a successful wholesale margarine business based at Gallowgate, Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England.

W H Scott was a prominent Wesleyan Methodist. He was a well-liked man, and was held in a high regard by his workforce.

Scott & Turner began to manufacture Andrews Liver Salts, an antacid and stomach reliever, from 1895. The product was named after their office, located at St Andrew’s Buildings.

W M Turner entered into retirement from 1907. Andrews Liver Salts had an annual sale of over two million tins by this time.

Sales of Andrews Liver Salts continued to grow, and the Gallowgate works were repeatedly expanded to accommodate increased production.

Scott & Turner advertised Andrews Liver Salts as the highest-selling antacid in Britain by 1922. Around 300 people were employed by this time.

W H Scott continued to act as chairman of Scott & Turner until his death in 1922.

Sterling Drug acquires Scott & Turner
Scott & Turner was acquired by Sterling Drug of the United States in 1923.

Andrews Liver Salts were introduced to the Canadian market from 1924.

Andrews Liver Salts were advertised as the highest-selling antacid in the world from 1926.

Scott & Turner was acquired by Drug Inc of the United States in 1929.

A new gas-powered factory was established in 1934. A total of 350 to 450 people were employed.

Staff hours were reduced to five days a week, with no reduction in pay from 1935.

There were around 500 employees by 1944.

A new factory at Fawdon, Newcastle was opened in 1949 in order to meet rapidly growing demand overseas for Liver Salts. 27 percent of Liver Salt production was exported. The Gallowgate site was divested.

Export sales of Liver Salts ran at about £1 million a year by 1952.

Scott & Turner rebuilt the Fawdon site in 1956. The new factory was thoroughly modern, with utmost standards of cleanliness and high levels of automation.

Sterling Drug merged Scott & Turner with another subsidiary, Charles H Phillips Chemical Co, manufacturers of Milk of Magnesia, to form Phillips, Scott & Turner in 1960. The head office was at Acton Vale, London, and the northern sales office was based in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Andrews was the clear market leader in stomach remedies in Britain as late as 1978. A television campaign featuring the Pink Panther cartoon character boosted sales by 40 percent in 1986.

Andrews Liver Salts contained sodium bicarbonate, citric acid and magnesium sulphate as of 1993.

Recent ownership and closure of the Fawdon site
Sterling Healthcare was acquired by SmithKline Beecham in 1994.

About 700 people were employed at the Fawdon plant in 1994.

SmithKline Beecham merged with GlaxoWellcome to form GlaxoSmithKline in 2000.

The Fawdon site was closed in 2015. Manufacturing of Andrews Liver Salts was transferred to Spain.

Andrews Liver Salts was the fifth highest-selling indigestion remedy in Britain in 2017, behind Gaviscon, Rennie, Nexium and Zantac.

Notes on the Carlsberg UK merger with Marston’s

Some initial thoughts on the merger of the businesses of Carlsberg UK and the Marston’s Beer Company.

On 22 May 2020 it was announced that Carlsberg UK will merge with the brewing arm of Marston’s. Carlsberg will control 60 percent of the equity in the venture and Marston’s will hold the remainder.

The Twittersphere seems to believe that this is a “classic case” of “Big Beer” exercising control over the British brewing industry. Perhaps it is, but I would characterise it as more of an act of desperation on the part of Carlsberg. Not only will Marston’s continue to hold a large minority stake in the business, but they will receive a one off cash payment of £273 million.

As things stood, Carlsberg UK was undoubtedly in a position of weakness. Despite a major rebrand and overhaul of its recipe, Carlsberg lager remains stuck at third place in the standard lager market, behind Carling and Foster’s. Their only powerful brand in the premium lager market is San Miguel, which admittedly has enjoyed somewhat of a surge in popularity in recent years.

Other than the licence to brew Brooklyn Brewery products, Carlsberg’s most noticeable commitment to craft beer consisted of closing down their Leeds site, the largest cask ale brewery in the world, in 2008. The tie-up with Marston’s effectively reverses this decision, buying into a business that operates six breweries, largely producing cask ale.

Furthermore, the Marston’s tie-up represents a reversal of strategy for Carlsberg. They closed their own distribution network in 2016. Now, four years later, having access to the Marston’s distribution network is an appeal for them.

I honestly wish the venture success. I believe that both businesses are stronger together. Carlsberg has neglected its Tetley cask ale brand, which was the largest in the world as late as the mid-1990s, whereas Marston’s has nurtured and heavily invested in its own. Meanwhile Marston’s lacks strong lager brands, which Carlsberg provides.