Fox’s Glacier Mints is the leading boiled mint brand in Britain.
Walter Richard Fox (1862 – 1951) was born to a Baptist Leicestershire farming family. He built up a wholesale grocery business on York Road in Leicester.
Fox was an inventor, and he began to manufacture confectionery from 1895. He was producing over 100 different lines by 1897.
The business eventually passed to his son, Eric Smart Fox (1890 – 1963). He had received training in the new American business methods and advertising techniques.
Fox apparently invented the Glacier Mint, by mistake, in 1918. The transparent peppermints were originally called Clear Mint Fingers, and sold in large glass jars. Acting on his wife’s advice, Fox renamed the sweets Glacier Mints from 1919.
Expanding production saw the business move to Oxford Street, Leicester from 1923.
A factory was established in Castlereagh, Belfast, from 1954. Around 200 people were employed.
Fox’s Glacier Fruits were introduced from 1956.
Eric Smart Fox died in 1963 and left an estate valued at £150,000.
The Castlereagh plant was closed, with the loss of around 100 jobs, in 1964.
The company relocated to purpose-built premises in Braunstone, Leicester from 1967. It was the most modern automated confectionery plant in Europe.
The company was in debt and losing money by the late 1960s. It was acquired by Mackintosh & Son of Halifax, Yorkshire for almost £1 million in cash (around £14 million in 2014) in 1969. Later that same year, Mackintosh was acquired by Rowntree. Rowntree Mackintosh soon restored Fox’s to profitability.
From the 1980s, the Leicester factory began to produce the fruit-flavoured variants of Rowntree’s popular Polo mint brand.
Rowntree was acquired by Nestle of Switzerland in 1988.
Declining sales saw Nestle consider closing the Leicester factory, before Northern Foods offered £8.4 million for the business in 2001. Nestle relocated production of the fruit-flavoured Polo mints to a factory in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile Northern Foods concentrated its confectionery business at the Leicester factory, closing its Croydon plant and bringing the Paynes Poppets and Just Brazils brands to Fox’s.
Fox’s was subject to a management buyout for £9.4 million in 2003. Called the Big Bear Group, it acquired other brands such as Sugar Puffs cereal.
Big Bear was acquired by Raiso Group of Finland for £80 million in 2011. Raiso own the Benecol health drink brand.
Fox’s employed around 150 people as of 2014. Its other brands include XXX strong mints, Payne’s Poppets and Just Brazils.
Big Bear Confectionery was sold to Valeo Foods in 2017.
Valeo Foods have announced that the Leicester factory would close by the end of 2019, with production transferred to York.