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A J Caley of Norwich

A J Caley of Norwich was one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in Britain.

A J Caley establishes the business
Albert Jarman Caley (1829 – 1895) was born in Windsor, the son of a silk merchant. After attending Eton School he established a chemist’s shop on High Street, Windsor from 1853.

Caley relocated to London Street, Norwich, where his brother already lived, from 1857.

A J Caley began to manufacture soft drinks from 1862. Soft drinks manufacturing was Caley’s largest branch of trade by 1881.

Due to the seasonal nature of the soft drinks trade, Caley began to produce drinking chocolate from 1883, followed by eating chocolate from 1886.

Caley was possessed of a retiring disposition. He was considered a kind and considerate employer who took a keen interest in the welfare of his employees. He was a religious man, and in later life was affiliated with the evangelical Plymouth Brethren.

A J Caley retired in 1894 and control of the business passed to his only son, Edward James Caley (1862 – 1938), and two nephews.

A J Caley died in 1895 with an estate valued at £22,000.

A J Caley is converted into a limited liability company
The business was converted into a private limited liability company, A J Caley & Son, in 1898, with a capital of £120,000.

Christmas cracker production commenced from 1898.

The manufacture of milk chocolate commenced from 1901.

700 workers were employed by 1904. This had risen to 1,200 by 1912.

A J Caley & Son supplied the armed forces with ration chocolate during the First World War.

Acquisition by Lever Brothers
A J Caley & Son was acquired by the Lever Brothers-controlled United Africa Company in 1919. The United Africa Company was motivated by the opportunity to have an outlet for its large purchases of raw cocoa.

A J Caley & Son saw its capital increased from £120,000 to £1 million. Four new factories were completed at a cost of around £500,000 in 1920, which trebled productive capacity.

Chocolate, especially Easter eggs, was the most important manufacture by this time. Christmas cracker production was also important, and the division employed hundreds of people year round.

Sale to John Mackintosh & Sons
A J Caley & Son had become loss-making by the early 1930s, and the factory was about to be closed.

John Mackintosh & Sons of Halifax acquired A J Caley & Son for £138,000 in 1932. Mackintosh was motivated by the opportunity to increase its productive capacity, which had outgrown their own Halifax site.

In the first year of acquisition the Caley works was greatly expanded. In order to render A J Caley profitable, hundreds of product lines and several departments were discontinued, and some employee redundancies had to be made. However there were nearly 1,500 employees at Norwich by 1935, more than ever before.

Caley’s expertise in chocolate manufacture allowed Mackintosh to introduce new product lines such as Rolo and Quality Street.

A J Caley sales grew eightfold between 1933 and 1938.

Caley initially operated under independent management, but control was brought under the Mackintosh umbrella from 1939.

The Caley factory was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War in 1942, and had to be rebuilt.

The Caley’s brand name was phased out in the early 1960s.

John Mackintosh & Sons employed 2,000 people at Norwich by 1962.

John Mackintosh & Sons merged with Rowntree in 1969 to form Rowntree Mackintosh.

Rowntree Mackintosh was acquired by Nestle of Switzerland in 1988.

The Norwich factory was closed in 1994, and demolished ten years later.