R S Murray & Co introduced American-style caramels to Britain, but remains best-known for Murray Mints.
R S Murray introduces caramels to Britain
Robert Stuart Murray (1854 – 1912) was a confectionery salesman from Chicago, Illinois. He relocated to London where he introduced imported American-style caramels, made from milk or cream and sugar, to the British market.
Encouraged by strong demand, Murray formed a partnership with Charles Hubbard (died 1911) and Walter Michael Price (1826 – 1919), and established a confectionery factory at 67 Turnmill Street in Clerkenwell from 1882. Caramel producing machinery to the value of £8,000 was imported from America.
The factory employed 300 workers, and had a daily production output of five to six tons of confectionery.
R S Murray & Co was registered as a limited company with a capital of £50,000 in 1900. R S Murray & Co was probably the third largest sugar confectionery manufacturer in London by this time, behind Clarnico and Barratt.
R S Murray & Co had diversified into chocolate manufacturing by 1906.
The workers at R S Murray & Co went out on strike, demanding higher pay, in 1911. The largely female workforce were supported by Mary Macarthur (1880 – 1921), the prominent women’s rights campaigner. The campaign ended with a largely positive result for the workforce.
Robert Stuart Murray died in 1912 with a net personalty valued at £20,169 (around £19.3 million in 2020 prices).
H J Norton establishes overseas subsidiaries
Herbert John Norton (1874 – 1958) was nominated managing director in 1912, following the death of Robert Stuart Murray.
The factory site covered over three acres by 1914, and employed 1,500 to 2,000 people.
H J Norton was nominated chairman after the First World War.
A chocolate manufacturing subsidiary in Australia was established at De Carle Street, East Brunswick, a suburb of Melbourne, from 1920.
R S Murray formed a joint venture with Clarnico to establish an Irish manufacturing presence, Clarnico Murray, from 1927.
The Australian factory employed over 300 people by 1931. Rowntree of York and R S Murray merged their Australian interests into a joint venture from 1934.
R S Murray & Co is acquired by C & E Morton
R S Murray & Co was acquired by C & E Morton, a tinned food manufacturer, in 1936.
The Turnmill Street factory was closed in the late 1930s, and R S Murray production was transferred to the C & E Morton site at Lowestoft, Suffolk.
R S Murray sold its stake in the Australian subsidiary to Rowntree in 1942.
Murray Mints, caramels flavoured with molasses and peppermint, were introduced from 1944. They soon became the best known R S Murray product.
C & E Morton was acquired by Beecham, a consumer goods manufacturer, for £180,000 in 1945.
Murray Mints were advertised on British television from 1955. They were promoted as, “the too good to hurry mint”. Murray Mints became one of the most extensively advertised sugar confectionery lines, and sales soared.
Other Murray products sold throughout the 1950s included Murray Fruits, the Regent assortment, and Murray Caramels.
Beecham acquired James Pascall, in an attempt to build scale in confectionery, in 1959. Following the takeover, Beecham focused its marketing efforts on Pascall products, rather than the Murray range.
Pascal Murray is acquired by Cadbury Fry
Beecham were successful marketers, but they struggled with the highly competitive confectionery industry, and Pascall Murray was sold to Cadbury, a large chocolate manufacturer, 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.
Cadbury was acquired by Kraft of Chicago in 2010. Kraft spun-off its global snacks business, including Cadbury, as Mondelez in 2012.
Murray Mints are still sold in Britain by Mondelez under the Maynard Bassett brand. Murray Butter Mints are also available as part of a mint assortment.