Category Archives: Confectionery

All in their hands: Walters’ Palm Toffee

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.

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Walters was naturalised as a British subject in 1899.

Production was relocated to a 1.5 acre site at Westfields Road, Acton in 1926. A former aircraft factory, it was one of the largest toffee manufacturing sites in the United Kingdom.

Walters’ Palm Toffee Ltd had a share capital of £240,000 in 1928. That year, export sales to Europe and the British Empire began.

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. A Major Walters, a director of the company, collapsed at the scene from shock and had to be hospitalised. The factory was rebuilt.

Walters’ Palm Toffee was acquired by J & P Holland of Southport, the largest toffee manufacturers in the world, for £385,000 in 1960.

J A & P Holland was acquired by Cavenham in 1965. Cavenham closed the Acton factory shortly afterwards.

Halls of fame: the world’s leading sweet

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

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Thomas Harold Hall (born 1872) 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 in 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 in 1924.

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

T H Hall retired in 1926, and N S Hall continued as sole managing director. N S Hall held the office 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. They specialised in boiled sweets and caramels, and Hall’s “Mentho-lyptus tablets” were 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.

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

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. Hall’s was the leading cough drop in the United States by 1972. Sales developed in Latin America in the 1970s.

The Hall’s Soothers trademark was first registered in the UK in 1986.

The original Whitefield factory was closed in the late 1980s.

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

Cadbury acquired Hall’s in 2003.

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 in 2012.

In Britain, Hall’s Soothers outsells the original Hall’s Mentho-lyptus, which is now sold simply as “Hall’s”.

Whilst used as a cough and cold remedy in the Northern hemisphere, in hotter climes such as South America and Thailand, Hall’s is positioned as a sweet consumed for refreshment.

Hall’s accounts for 20 percent of medicated sweets sales worldwide, and is the leading sugar confectionery brand in the world according to Euromonitor.

Just Chewit: Holland of Southport

Holland of Southport was the largest toffee manufacturer in the world. It remains best known for introducing the Chewits sweet.

Due to the death of his mother and the subsequent alcoholism of his father, John Holland (born 1860) was adopted by his uncle, James Ford (born 1840), a prosperous confectioner in Ormskirk, Lancashire, in 1868. Holland served an apprenticeship with Ford, who later gave him premises of his own at 23a Cross Street, Southport.

John Holland developed a new method for producing creamy toffee in the 1890s. Before boiling, all the ingredients except for flavouring and colouring were cold-mixed at high speed in vats until a smooth consistency was achieved.

The highest-selling product was Everton Toffee, made with just sugar and butter.

John Arthur Holland (1886 – 1963) also entered the business.

During the First World War a production line factory was built outside Southport. The firm was thus well-placed to cope with the post-war rise in demand for confectionery products.

The next generation also joined the business; John Arthur Holland (1913 – 2001), was appointed manager of a new toffee factory on Virginia Street, Southport in 1927.

The firm traded as John Holland & Sons by 1932.

J A Holland evidently made a success of his factory, as the Cross Street site was sold off in 1934, with all production centralised at Virginia Street.

J A Holland took over the firm from his father in 1936. He relaunched Invalide Toffee, a discontinued brand that had been first introduced around 1900. Sales took off, aided by a confident new marketing slogan, “Best on Earth”.

The factory sustained £5,000 to £6,000 worth of damage in 1940 due to fire. The works were out of use for three weeks, but Holland refused to leave staff out of work, and instead engaged them in the clean-up process.

Originally a local firm, the post-war period saw a boom in sales, and Holland’s capitalised on this by keeping the factory running 24 hours a day. A £75,000 investment was used to extend the factory in 1952. That year, the firm was passed to John Arthur’s two sons, John Arthur and Peter (born 1923), and renamed J A & P Holland.

J A & P Holland was listed on the Liverpool Stock Exchange with an authorized capital of £250,000 in 1953. That year, the company began exporting toffee to the United States. A new four-storey factory was erected at Virginia Street, Southport in 1954.

The toffee market had began to decline by the late 1950s, but Holland continued to grow by acquiring competitors. Holland became the largest toffee manufacturer in the United Kingdom after it acquired Fillerys of Birmingham in 1960. Fillerys produced higher-end toffee, and had a substantial own-label contract with Marks & Spencer.

Later in 1960 Walters Palm Toffee of Acton was acquired for £385,000; and Ewbanks of Pontefract, best known for liquorice, for £72,600.

The company listed on the London Stock Exchange in May 1960, with an ordinary capital of over £500,000.

In 1961 S Parkinson & Son of Doncaster, best known for butterscotch, and Coq d’Or, best known for high quality chocolates, were acquired.

In 1961 Harper Paper was acquired.

After US$2.8 million of acquisitions, J A & P Holland was the largest manufacturer of toffee and caramel in the world by 1962.

When John Arthur Holland died in 1962 he left an estate of £117,243.

Some subsidiaries were loss-making, particularly the paper interests, and J A & P Holland was unable to pay a dividend in 1963 or 1964. Independent shareholders found themselves in disagreement with the Holland family regarding company strategy.

J A & P Holland was best known for Penny Arrows and Goodies White Mice when the Chewits line was introduced in 1965.

Cavenham Foods acquired J A & P Holland in 1965. It joined the Cavenham Confectionery subsidiary alongside Carson’s, which made chocolate liqueurs.

J A & P Holland’s paper and plastic interests were divested. Cavenham closed down the smaller factories that it had inherited, leaving just Bristol, Southport and Doncaster. Cavenham invested heavily in new machinery at the Southport factory.

J A & P Holland was well-established as the leading exporter of toffee to America by 1967.

Cavenham Confectionery was loss-making between 1966 and 1969.

Cavenham provided strong advertising support for Holland brands, with Chewits and Arrows advertised on television in the 1970s.

The Doncaster factory was closed due to the rising cost of sugar in 1977. All administrative functions and chocolate production were centralised at Bristol.  Sugar confectionery production was concentrated at Southport.

Cavenham Confectionery had re-entered profitability by 1980, with annual sales of £24 million.

Cavenham Confectionery was subject to a management-buyout backed by Candover, a private equity firm, for around £8 million in 1981. 1,050 people were employed at Bristol and Southport. Its main products included Elizabeth Shaw, liqueur chocolates, children’s sweet lines and own-label chocolate for Marks & Spencer.

Candover sold Cavenham Confectionery (now called Famous Names) to Imperial Tobacco for £15.5 million in 1985. By this time the number of employees had been downsized to 650.

The Southport factory employed around 250 people in 1986, and produced the Chewits, Goodies and Parkinsons confectionery lines.

Famous Names Ltd changed its name to Elizabeth Shaw Ltd in 1988.

Elizabeth Shaw Ltd was subject to another management buyout for £24.7 million in 1989. Leaf of Amsterdam took a minority stake in the venture. By this time Chewits was the leading fruit chew brand in Britain.

In 1990 Leaf took full control of Elizabeth Shaw Ltd.

The Southport factory, with a four-floor layout, was outdated, and was operating at 40 percent capacity. It was closed with the loss of 150 jobs in 2006. Production was relocated to Slovakia and the Southport factory was demolished in 2008.

On point: Edward Sharp & Sons of Maidstone

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.

It takes Allsorts: Geo Bassett of Sheffield

Throughout much of the nineteenth century, Bassett’s was the largest sugar confectionery manufacturer in the world. Today the brand is best known for Liquorice Allsorts and Jelly Babies.

Liquorice Allsorts
Liquorice Allsorts

George Bassett (1818 – 1886) was the son of a farmer at Ashover, Derbyshire. He served an apprenticeship with William Haslam, a confectioner of Low Pavement, Chesterfield.

Bassett was from a Wesleyan Methodist background, and remained strongly committed to the church throughout his life. He was a shrewd and painstaking man, with a dogged perseverance.

In 1842 Bassett moved to Sheffield and established himself as a retail confectioner at 30 Broad Street, Park. He later opened shops at Market Hall and Westbar. Additional premises were opened at Snig Hill.

The retail trade was to prove slow, and Bassett decided to enter the confectionery manufacturing business. In 1859 he sold his retail business and took on a partner, William Lodge, and they traded as Bassett & Lodge. A new steam-powered confectionery works was opened at Portland Street, Infirmary Road, Sheffield.

The Bassett & Lodge partnership failed to work out, and was dissolved in 1861. In 1861 Bassett employed 36 men, 30 boys and 12 girls. He was regarded as a kind employer.

In 1864 Bassett entered into partnership with Samuel Meggitt Johnson (1837 – 1925), who had previously worked for him as an apprentice.

Bassett employed 150 people by 1871. By 1876 the Portland Street works was the largest confectionery factory in the world.

In 1876 George Bassett was elected Mayor of Sheffield. In 1877 the former United States President, Ulysses S Grant, stayed at Bassett’s house on his visit to Britain.

In 1878 Bassett suffered a paralytic stroke and was forced to resign from business and public service. S M Johnson took full control of Bassett & Co. George Bassett died in 1886 with a personalty of £91,524. He had given generously to various charitable causes throughout his life.

Bassett’s was the largest confectionery manufacturer in Britain by 1886.

The Don Works, Bridge Street had also been opened in Sheffield by 1890. The Don Works employed 180 women. The Portland Street works employed 300 people.

S M Johnson was highly regarded as an employer.

In 1899, Charles Thompson, the company’s sole sales representative, called on a Leicester wholesaler called Walker. A shop assistant knocked over his tray of sweets. Walker liked the look of the scattered sweets, and ordered a batch. Thus, the sale of Liquorice Allsorts began.

The business was converted into a private limited company in 1919.

When Johnson died in 1926, his estate was valued at £818,360. In his obituary in The Times he was heralded as one of Sheffield’s most benevolent citizens.

George Bassett was incorporated in 1926 with a capital of £350,000.

The Don Works had been closed down by 1927, but a peel and fruit preservers, Samuel M Johnson & Sons of Owlerton, had been acquired.

Net profit in 1928 was £72,601.

From 1933 all production was concentrated at the Owlerton site.

Geo Bassett & Co had 1,200 workers in 1939

Geo Bassett & Co accounted for over 35 percent of British confectionery exports to the United States in 1952.

D Gordon Johnson, a descendant of S M Johnson, was appointed chairman and managing director in 1955, following the death of the previous chairman E M Mott. By this time Geo Bassett & Co employed 2,500 people, and controlled around half of the British liquorice industry.

In the 1956-7 year, one million dollars worth of Licorice Allsorts were sold in the US and Canada.

In the 1958-9 year, over 20,000 tonnes of Bassett’s confectionery was sold.

In 1961 W R Wilkinson, confectioners of Pontefract, was acquired for £1.1 million in cash.

In 1966 Barratt’s, with the leading position in the children’s confectionery market, was acquired for nearly £4 million. By 1972 Bassett’s was Europe’s largest sugar confectioner.

In 1975 the Barratt’s factory in Wood Green, London was closed with the loss of 750 jobs. The closure was due to a shortage of labour in the area and the difficulty of modernising the factory.

By 1977 Bassett’s had five factories: Sheffield, Pontefract, Uddingston, Breda in the Netherlands and Sydney, Australia. 30 percent of all its British production was exported to 62 countries.

In 1977 75 percent of Rouger et Cie was acquired for £568,277 in cash.

1979-80 saw the company register a profit loss due to the strength of the pound sterling and strong competition from imports. As a result, the Allsorts product was repositioned as a mid-market rather than upmarket brand.

The following year, Bassett’s re-entered profitability after 25 percent of its workforce was dismissed, leaving it with 3,000 employees.

By 1986 Bassett’s had fallen to third place in the British sugar confectionery market, behind Trebor and Rowntree with a 7 percent market share.

In 1989 the company was acquired by Cadbury for £91 million. Cadbury merged its own smaller sugar confectionery businesses of Pascall-Murray and Lion into the larger Bassett concern.

Later that year, Cadbury acquired Trebor for £110 million, and re-named its sugar confectionery subsidiary Trebor Bassett.

The fizzy history of Barratt & Co

Barratt & Co was once the largest sugar confectionery manufacturer in the world. Today it is best known for children’s confectionery products such as Sherbet Fountains and Dip Dabs.

George Osborne Barratt (1827 – 1906), pastry cook, entered into partnership with his brother, James John Barratt (born 1825) at 9 Albert Place, City Road, Shoreditch in 1848.

The partnership was dissolved in 1852, and Barratt relocated to Shepherdess Walk, Hoxton, where he established himself as a confectioner.

The breakthrough for the business occurred when Barratt accidentally invented a new type of toffee. Branded as “Stickjaw”, he targeted the working class market with low prices.

No’s 9 and 10 were occupied at Shepherdess Walk by 1864, to give Barratt factories on both sides of the street. In 1883 one of the Shepherdess Walk factories was destroyed by fire. Around 500 people were employed by this time.

By 1884 Barratt was one of the largest manufacturers of jam and confectionery in London.

In 1885 another fire occurred at Barratt’s factories at 30 and 32 Shepherdess Walk.

In 1890 the factory employed 600 people. That year around 200 staff, mostly young men and women, went on strike.

By 1899 Barratt had 2,000 employees. That year, the factory was struck by fire, causing £100,000 worth of damage.

In 1902 Barratt entered retirement, and divided his business between his four children.

By 1906 Barratt was the largest confectionery manufacturer in the world. The company employed nearly 2,000 people and produced over 300 tons of sweets every week, on a site of nearly five acres.

G O Barratt died in 1906. He left an estate of £153,830.

In 1907 E W Barratt gifted every employee of the company a 14-carat gold watch, in memory of his father.

In 1909 the company was incorporated with a capital of £330,000. All of the directors were members of the Barratt family.

In 1913 George William Barratt gifted all 2,000 employees with an alarm clock.

In 1928 G W Barratt died and left £369,282.

In 1966 Barratt was acquired by George Bassett of Sheffield for almost £4 million.

In 1975 the Wood Green factory was closed with the loss of 750 jobs. The closure was due to labour sourcing issues and an outdated factory.

In 1989 Bassett was acquired by Cadbury,

In 2008 Cadbury sold Barratt, Butterkist popcorn and other smaller confectionery lines, to Tangerine Confectionery for £58 million.

In 2013 the Barratt name was rebranded as “Candyland”. Tangerine did not rule out reviving the Barratt brand at a later date.

Money-making Machin: Batger & Co

By the turn of the twentieth century Batger & Co was one of the largest confectioners in Britain. It was best known for Chinese Figs, Jersey Caramels and Silmos Lollies.

Batger & Co was established by a Miss Batger in 1748. The Batger family were sugar refiners of New Road, St George, Middlesex. By 1783 John Batger had moved to 16 Bishopsgate Street, London, where by at least 1814 he had established a confectionery business.

Batger & Co had a four-storey factory at 15-16 Bishopsgate Street by 1847.

Batger & Co was acquired by Samuel Hanson & Son of Botolph Lane in 1856.

A new factory was established at 103 Broad Street, Ratcliff, London in 1863. The Bishopsgate premises were divested.

Frederick Machin (1826 – 1902) had acquired Batger & Co by 1864. In 1871 the company employed 200 people. “Harlequin” Christmas crackers began to be produced from 1872.

By 1875 the factory covered two acres, all built upon. 450 people were employed; rising to 550 at Christmas and 700 during the English fruit season, when jam was made. Around 2,000 tons of sugar and 1,000 tons of English fruits were used each year. Machinery was used extensively.

From 1855 Frederick Arnold was the general manager of the company. He was a kind man and an effective manager. He led a content workforce, for whom annual excursions were organised. Arnold was dismissed in 1880 for extensively stealing from the company, and sentenced to 14 months hard labour.

Batger & Co employed 400 people (250 men, 100 women and 50 boys) by 1881. They were one of the largest manufacturers of jam and confectionery in London.

14 tons of rotten fruit were seized from the Broad Street factory by the local health authority in 1895.

Frederick Machin died in 1902 with an estate valued at £59,887. Control of the firm passed to his son, Stanley Machin (1861 – 1939).

By 1902 Batger was one of the largest confectionery companies in the United Kingdom. By 1909 the company employed well over 1,000 people. During the First World War the company won a lucrative contract to supply the Army with jam.

Batger & Co was acquired by Crosse & Blackwell in 1920 for £522,902. Batger retained its old management, and in 1923 was the sole profitable Crosse & Blackwell subsidiary. However Crosse & Blackwell directors found that a confectionery firm was a poor fit for a company largely concerned with preserves.

In 1926 Crosse & Blackwell divested Batger & Co Ltd as a private company under the sole control of Stanley Machin and Joseph Hetherington (1873 – 1937), who had both been associated with the firm for over forty years.

In 1926 there was a strike at the Broad Street factory. The striking employees were all dismissed.

Stanley Machin died in 1939. An obituary hailed him as one of the “leaders of commercial life in the City of London”.

The Broad Street factories were destroyed during the Blitz in 1940. A new factory was opened at 44 Southside, Clapham Common.

In 1969 Batger made a loss of £66,000 on a turnover of £1.2 million. Its net asset value was £301,000.

Batger & Co was acquired by Needlers Ltd of Hull, a confectionery firm, for £263,000 in cash in 1970. The Batger factory in Clapham was closed in 1971, with production relocated to Hull. Two Batger directors, J Hetherington and C Machin, joined Needlers.

The last remaining Batger’s product, Chinese Figs, was discontinued around the year 2000.

In 2002 the Needlers business was acquired by Ashbury Confectionery of Corby, which continues to trade.

The art of success: Henry Tate and Sons

Tate & Lyle is the largest sugar business in Europe. Henry Tate built his fortune by popularising the sugar cube In Britain, and later established the Tate Gallery in London.

Henry Tate (1819 – 1899) was born in Chorley, Lancashire to a Unitarian minister from Newcastle upon Tyne. Tate was apprenticed to one of his older brothers at a grocery shop in Liverpool from 1832.

Tate acquired his own grocery shop at Old Haymarket, Liverpool, from Aaron Wedgwood (1789 – 1840) in 1839. He began to focus on the sale of tea. He had six shops by 1855; four in Liverpool, one in Birkenhead and one in Ormskirk. He expanded into the wholesale trade in 1857.

Tate entered into partnership with John Wright, a sugar refiner of Manesty Lane in Liverpool, in 1859. Tate sold his grocery interests to a brother-in-law in 1861, in order to concentrate on the sugar business. Tate built a sugar refinery of his own at Earle Street in 1862. Little is known of Tate’s refineries at this time, but they probably produced low quality sugar and treacle.

Tate bought out Wright’s stake in 1869, and Tate’s sons Alfred (born 1846) and Edwin (1847 – 1928) were brought into the business, which was renamed Henry Tate & Sons.

Tate acquired the rights to the new French Boivin-Loiseau sugar purification process in 1872. Despite having been first offered to every other sugar refiner of scale, none but Tate had recognised its potential. It was this patent that really offered Tate a serious advantage over his rivals, as it was more efficient than the then-predominant Greenock process.

Tate opened a new refinery in Love Lane, Liverpool in 1872. Soon the factory was producing 1,000 tons of sugar each week. By this time the company employed 400 people.

Tate and David Martineau, a London sugar refiner, bought the British rights to Eugen Langen’s sugar cube manufacturing process in 1875. Previously sugar had been sold to grocers in large cones, with servings then broken off with a hammer. The old method was inefficient, and pre-packaged “Tate’s Cube Sugar” was soon a great success.

Early packaging for Tate's Cube Sugar
Early packaging for Tate’s Cube Sugar

Tate acquired a derelict shipyard at Silvertown on the Thames in London in 1874-5. He opened his largest sugar refinery there in 1878, and it was managed by his son, Edwin. This new refinery would produce only sugar cubes.

By 1883 Tate had the largest sugar producing capacity in Liverpool, and the third largest capacity in London. The Liverpool plant produced hard sugar and the London plant produced soft sugar.

Henry Tate & Sons employed 538 people by 1889.

At the age of 76, Tate was asked why he did not retire. He replied, “when you pull on a string and gold sovereigns come tumbling down, it’s very difficult to stop pulling that string”. However he finally did retire the next year.

Henry Tate & Sons became a private limited company in 1896, and his son, William Henry Tate (1842 – 1922), became the first chairman, and his brothers were the directors.

Henry Tate in 1897 by Hubert Von Herkomer
Henry Tate in 1897 by Hubert Von Herkomer

Henry Tate was a private man, a good employer and a generous benefactor. He built, at the cost of £500,000, the Tate Gallery for the people of Britain, which housed his collection of art including Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shallot. Other benefactions, sometimes anonymous, but always discreet, amounted to almost £1 million. Despite his great wealth he lived a modest life, and refused a baronetcy twice before finally accepting in 1898, having been told by the Prime Minister that a third refusal would offend the Royal family. Tate died a year later.

At the turn of the century the factories in Silvertown and Liverpool employed between 2,000 and 3,000 people. The London buildings occupied 36,000 square metres, and the Liverpool buildings occupied 19,400 square metres.

After a director died,  his widow wished to sell her stake, so Henry Tate & Sons went public in 1903.

Henry Tate & Sons was the largest sugar refiner in Europe by 1914. The company merged with Abram Lyle & Sons, another large British refiner best known for its golden syrup, in 1921. The new company, Tate & Lyle, had a capital of £4.5 million and employed over 5,000 people. The business controlled around 50 percent of Britain’s sugar refining capacity.

Reasons for the merger included the expectation of the re-emergence of European sugar refiners after the First World War, but also the Tate family lacked young blood to take over the company, whilst the Lyle family had an abundance of candidates.

Fairrie & Co of Liverpool was acquired in 1929. The company employed around 900 people. The Fairrie sugar refinery was immediately closed down.

Tate & Lyle was the 32nd most valuable company in Britain by market value in 1930.

Tate & Lyle employed 7,000 people, and was among the 100 largest employers in Britain by 1935.

A major rival emerged after the British government nationalised fifteen sugar beet refiners under the British Sugar name in 1936.

Tate & Lyle held 60 percent of the British sugar market by 1937.

Tate & Lyle acquired Macfie & Sons of Liverpool in 1938. The ageing Macfie refinery was immediately closed down, and production was relocated to Love Lane.

The Thames Refinery became the largest sugar refinery in the world, with an output of 14,000 tons a week by 1939.

Tate & Lyle employed 10,000 people in 1961. The company held over 50 percent of the British sugar market in 1970.

Britain entered the Common Market from 1972, which saw quotas imposed on imported raw sugar cane. As a result, Tate & Lyle was forced to diversify.

Manbre & Garton, a sugar and starch producer, was acquired in 1976. The acquisition gave Tate & Lyle a monopoly on cane sugar production in Britain.

Unfortunately Manbre & Garton began to haemorrhage capital. Combined with some ill-fated diversification attempts, by the late 1970s Tate & Lyle was in trouble.

Canadian Neil Shaw was appointed managing director in 1980, and he set about transforming Tate & Lyle into a professionally managed company.

Shaw closed down the Garton starch factories, sold six of Tate’s ships, closed its glucose operations, reduced head office staffing levels and cut out excessive levels of management. The Love Lane refinery was closed in 1981 due to an excess of sugar capacity caused by the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union.

Worldwide staff had been reduced from 16,400 to 11,400 by 1984.

In 2010 Tate & Lyle sold its sugar business to American Sugar of Yonkers, New York. This allowed the company to concentrate on its industrial food products division.

As of 2013, Tate & Lyle’s Thames Refinery supplied 40 percent of Europe’s cane sugar demand.

Life Saver: James Pascall

James Pascall was one of the largest sugar confectionery manufacturers in Britain. It remains a leading sweets brand in Australia.

James Pascall (1838 – 1918) was born into a Quaker family, the son of a Croydon baker. Pascall worked for the Quaker firm of Cadbury as an agent before establishing his own confectionery business with his brother Arthur. The brothers had been taught how to make sweets by their father. The first premises was a small two room shop on Wells Street, off Oxford Street, London.

Many leading Victorian confectioners were Quakers, not just Cadbury but also Rowntree, Fry and Terry. They promoted sweets as an alternative to alcohol.

The business proved successful, and in 1877 operations were relocated to a larger site at Valentine Place on Blackfriars Road. Ten years later there were 300 employees, mostly women.

In 1887 a simple-minded employee deliberately burned down the factory, causing £20,000 worth of damage (£2.5 million in 2015), and leaving only the offices intact. Rival confectionery manufacturers offered Pascall the use of their factories as a stop-gap measure.

By the turn of the century, one of the company’s most successful lines was Golden Maltex, a malt extract confectionery product. In marketing, the company focused on the purity of its products.

In 1898 the business became a private limited company, with a capital of £50,000.

By 1902 there were over 600 employees. Like many Quaker-run firms, Pascall enjoyed good relations with its staff. The standard working day was eight hours, and never more than ten hours, even during the busiest periods.

In 1904 a new factory was opened at Mitcham in Surrey.

James Pascall Ltd employed over 2,000 people in Britain by 1915. By 1920 the company had a capital of £650,000 (£26 million in 2015).

In 1916 Pascall acquired the licence to manufacture Life Savers for the British market (Rowntree later introduced the Polo mint as an imitation of Life Savers).

In 1921 Pascall formed a joint venture with Cadbury-Fry in the Australian market, and a factory was established at Hobart, Tasmania.

In 1921 the Queen and Princess Mary visited the Mitcham factory. In 1922 the Prince of Wales awarded the company his royal warrant.

By 1930 company advertising claimed that Pascall was the originator of the individually-wrapped bon-bon.

James Pascall died in 1918 and his son, Sydney Pascall (1877 – 1949), was appointed as managing director and chairman. Sydney’s tenure was to end unsuccessfully, as the company struggled with profit losses and an immense overdraft. He resigned as managing director in 1930, and as chairman in 1932.

Edward Cassleton Elliott (1881 – 1964), who was what we would now call a business-turnaround specialist, was appointed chairman in 1932. Elliott reduced capital to £433,000, and soon returned the company to profitability. In 1957 the company made a profit before tax of nearly £500,000. In both 1957 and 1958 an impressive dividend of 55 percent was paid out.

By 1959 Pascall had just over £2 million in assets when it was acquired by Beecham for £2.5 million in cash (£52 million in 2015). Beecham merged Pascall with its R S Murray confectionery arm, best known for Murraymints.

The Chocolate Eclair product (chewy toffee with a chocolate centre) was introduced in 1960.

Beecham sold Pascall-Murray to Cadbury for £1.75 million in 1964. The following year the Pascall Chocolate Eclair was rebranded as Cadbury’s, and the milk chocolate centre was changed to Dairy Milk.

In 1970 Cadbury announced the closure of the Mitcham factory, which employed around 1,200 people. Production was transferred to Bournville and Bristol. Cadbury gave the reason for the closure as increased capacity at its other factories and persistent problems in sourcing sufficient labour at Mitcham.

In 1974 the leading Pascall products included Eclairs, Murraymints, bon-bons, fruit pastilles and marshmallows. Many of its sweets were sold in shops direct from the jar.

In 1989 Cadbury added to its sugar confectionery arm when it acquired Bassett of Sheffield, best known for Licorice Allsorts, and Trebor of London, best known for its mints.

Cadbury branded all of its fruit sweets under the Pascall name, and was introducing new Pascall branded products into the late 1990s.

In 2008 Cadbury divested its British sugar sweets arm to Tangerine Confectionery for £52 million.

In the UK, Pascall products, such as bon-bons, have since been rebranded under the Bassett’s name. Pascall remains a major brand in Australia and New Zealand, where it remains as the sugar confectionery arm of Cadbury.

 

Which mint came first: Polo or Life Savers?

When two near identical products emerge in two separate markets, it can sometimes be a coincidence. Sometimes it’s just blatant imitation.

Both Polo and Life Savers are annular (ring-shaped) mints, sold in tube shaped packaging.

The Life Saver mint was introduced in the United States by Clarence A Crane (1875 – 1931) in 1912. The name was chosen as the shape of the mint resembled life belts (life preservers in US English).

The product was launched in the United Kingdom in 1916. At a time when medical claims for products were unregulated, the mints were advertised as an aid to digestion. James Pascall Ltd, confectionery manufacturers of London, held the licence to distribute the product.

US sales of Life Savers had reached $5 million a year by 1921, with distribution across 84,000 outlets.

wint_o_green_roll

Life Savers were manufactured in Britain from at least 1923. As well as the original peppermint, there were cinnamon, liquorice and clove flavours. Sales peaked in 1931, when 2.28 million packets were sold. However confectionery rationing and limited imports during the Second World War meant that sales were practically non-existent by 1947.

Rowntree of York believed that the confection had potential when combined with their knowledge of the British market and manufacturing, advertising and distribution expertise. They had developed the Polo in 1939, but rationing saw its introduction delayed until 1948. The Polo followed a wave of 1930s innovations at Rowntree that included Aero, Smarties and Kit Kat.

Rowntree was aware that Polo was very similar to Life Savers, but as the company had not taken any action to protect their rights to the annular shape in mints, Rowntree was free to introduce its own version. To prevent legal action they stated “Made by Rowntree’s” clearly on the packaging.

An advert for Polo mints

Life Savers struggled to compete with the domestic strength of Rowntree, and British sales of Live Savers ended in 1956.

Small scale imports of Life Savers resumed in 1984, for sale in US military bases in Britain. Life Savers were reintroduced to the UK, imported from South Africa, in 1996. The relaunch was unsuccessful.

It seems strange that Rowntree resorted to blatant imitation as they had a very strong reputation for innovation in confection in their own right. Rowntree got a comeuppance of sorts: they developed Smarties in 1938, but would see Mars launch the similar M&Ms in 1941.