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.
Dobson was declared bankrupt in 1861. One of the trustees of the estate was George Bassett (1818 – 1886), confectioner of Sheffield.
Barker & Dobson was based at 6 Duke Street by 1870. Their main business was in imported French confectionery.
The business was taken over by Henry Dobson Jacobson (1867 – 1961), grandson of Joseph Dobson, in 1889. H D 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.
Barker & Dobson had premises at Whitefield Road, Liverpool by 1916.
To fund expansion, Barker & Dobson was incorporated as a public company from 1919.
Premises had been established at London as well as Liverpool by 1924.
A disused tram depot on Whitefield Road, Liverpool was acquired and converted into a factory in 1926.
Barker & Dobson had a authorised share capital of £500,000 by 1928. There were factories at Franklin Place and Whitefield Road. There were branches in Manchester and Birmingham. Over 1,200 people were employed.
By this time H D Jacobson had been joined by his brother, Percy Isidore Jacobson (1873 – 1961), as managing director, although H D Jacobson appears to have been the senior partner.
Barker & Dobson was profitable, but the company began to struggle to meet demand for its products, and required an increase in capital. The company was acquired by Scribbans-Kemp, a large cake and biscuit manufacturer, in 1952. Scribbans-Kemp had built Barker & Dobson a new factory and offices by 1955.
P I Jacobson died in 1961 with a gross estate of £353,003. H D Jacobson also 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.
Waller & Hartley of Blackpool was acquired in 1972, and with it the Hacks and Victory V cough sweet brands.
Barker & Dobson distributed Ferrero products such as Tic-Tacs for the British market from 1974.
Barket & Dobson suffered heavy losses in the mid-1970s. A stake in Hacks Malaysia Senirian Berhad was disposed of in 1976.
Due to a change in the law, Barker & Dobson was forced to remove the 0.2 percent chloroform component from its Victory V sweet recipe from 1981. Victory V 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.
Barker & Dobson acquired Budgens supermarkets, with 148 outlets, from Booker McConnell for £80 million in 1986.
Alma Holdings acquired the heavily loss-making Barker & Dobson from Budgens for £9.75 million in 1988. The deal made Alma the fourth largest sugar confectionery manufacturer in Britain.
Alma entered receivership in 1992, 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.
The Barker & Dobson brand is currently owned by Tangerine Confectionery in Britain.Hacks remains a leading confectionery brand in Malaysia.