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.
One day G O Barratt sold some hard brandy snaps that were half-baked. These were to prove popular.
The partnership was dissolved in 1852, and Barratt relocated to Shepherdess Walk, Hoxton, and established himself as a confectioner. He initially produced a few pounds of sweets a day, and was assisted by his wife and a sugar boiler.
Barratt’s next success was “coconut chips”; grated coconut coated in crystallised sugar. Barratt then had success with various types of rock confectionery.
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.
Barratt was always more of an inventor than a skilled producer of sweets himself.
No’s 9 and 10 were occupied at Shepherdess Walk by 1864, to give Barratt factories on both sides of the street. One of the Shepherdess Walk factories was destroyed by fire in 1883. Around 500 people were employed by this time.
Barratt was one of the largest manufacturers of jam and confectionery in London by 1884.
Another fire occurred at Barratt’s factories at 30 and 32 Shepherdess Walk in 1885.
The factory employed 600 people by 1890. That year around 200 staff, mostly young men and women, went on strike.
Barratt had 2,000 employees by 1899. That year, the factory was struck by fire, causing £100,000 worth of damage.
Barratt entered retirement from 1902, and divided his business between his four children.
Barratt was the largest confectionery manufacturer in the world by 1906. The company employed nearly 2,000 people and produced 350 tons of sweets every week, across a site of nearly five acres.
G O Barratt died in 1906, with an estate valued at £153,830.
E W Barratt gifted every employee of the company a 14-carat gold watch, in memory of his father, in 1907.
The company was incorporated with a capital of £330,000 in 1909. All of the directors were members of the Barratt family.
George William Barratt gifted all 2,000 employees with an alarm clock in 1913.
G W Barratt died and left £369,282 in 1928.
Barratt was acquired by George Bassett of Sheffield for almost £4 million in 1966.
The Wood Green factory was closed with the loss of 750 jobs in 1975. The closure was due to labour sourcing issues and an outdated factory.
Bassett was acquired by Cadbury in 1989,
Cadbury divested Barratt, Butterkist popcorn and other smaller confectionery lines, to Tangerine Confectionery for £58 million in 2008.
The Barratt name was rebranded as “Candyland” from 2013. Tangerine did not rule out reviving the Barratt brand at a later date.