R S Murray & Co introduced American style caramels to Britain, and is best known for Murray Mints.
Robert Stuart Murray (1854 – 1912), a confectionery salesman from Chicago, Illinois, found a ready sale for his American style caramels, made from milk or cream and sugar, in Victorian England.
Strong demand for the imported caramels saw Murray establish a factory at 67 Turnmill Street, Clerkenwell, London in 1882. He was joined in partnership by Charles Hubbard and Walter Michael Price (1826 – 1919).
£8,000 worth of caramel producing machinery was imported from America. The factory employed 300 workers, and five to six tons of confectionery were produced on a daily basis.
R S Murray & Co was registered as a limited company with a capital of £50,000 in 1900.
The company had diversified into chocolate manufacturing by 1906.
There was a strike at R S Murray & Co in 1911. The largely female strikers were supported by the women’s’ rights campaigner Mary Macarthur (1880 – 1921).
Robert Stuart Murray died in 1912 with an estate valued at £22,844. Herbert John Norton (1874 – 1958) was nominated managing director.
The works covered over three acres by 1914, and a staff of 1,500 to 2,000 was employed.
After the First World War, Norton was nominated chairman.
A chocolate manufacturing subsidiary was established in Australia in 1920, located at De Carle Street, East Brunswick, a suburb of Melbourne.
A manufacturing presence was established in Ireland as a joint venture called Clarnico Murray from 1926.
The Australian factory employed over 300 people by 1931. Rowntree of York and Murray merged their Australian interests into a joint venture from 1934.
R S Murray & Co was acquired by C & E Morton Ltd, a food manufacturer, in 1936.
The Turnmill Street factory was closed in the late 1930s.
The Australian subsidiary was fully acquired by Rowntree of York in 1942.
Murray Mints, a mint-flavoured caramel, were introduced from 1944. It soon became the best known R S Murray product.
C & E Morton was acquired by Beecham, a consumer goods concern, for £180,000 in 1945.
In an attempt to build scale in confectionery, Beecham acquired James Pascall in 1959. Following the takeover, Beecham focused its marketing efforts on Pascall products, rather than the Murray range.
Beecham were successful marketers, but they struggled with the highly competitive confectionery industry, and Pascal Murray was sold to Cadbury Fry in 1964.
Clarnico Murray had around ten percent of the Irish confectionery market by 1969. The Irish factory was closed in 1974, and the market was thereafter served by imports from Britain.