Halls is the leading sugar confectionery brand in the world. How did a cough drop from Lancashire conquer the global market?
Hall Brothers is established
Thomas Harold Hall (1872 – 1944) and Norman Smith Hall (1874 – 1946) were the sons of a Radcliffe, Lancashire millwright.
The two Hall brothers entered into partnership as jam manufacturers at the State Confectionery Works on Stanley Road, Whitefield, Lancashire from 1893.
Production had been extended into boiled sweets by 1901.
Hall Brothers was incorporated as a public company in 1912. The two brothers served as joint-managing directors.
After the First World War the company entered into caramel production.
Hall Brothers had introduced Maskots, a “compound pastille” which was marketed for its ability to fight colds, by 1921.
The company ceased jam production from 1924.
Thomas Hall retired from the business in 1926, and Norman Hall continued as sole managing director.
Halls Mentho-lyptus cough sweets are introduced
Halls Mentho-lyptus were introduced from 1927. They were oval sweets made with menthol and eucalyptus.
Thomas Hall died in 1944 with a net estate valued at £74,248.
Norman Hall died in 1946, and he was succeeded as managing director by his son, Roland Fletcher Hall (1901 -1969).
Roland Fletcher Hall initiated an ambitious strategy of expansion. Profits were reinvested into the business. The factory was expanded and the machinery was modernised. Capacity was tripled and sales grew.
Hall Brothers (Whitefield) Ltd had a fully-paid capital of £100,000 in 1953. The company specialised in boiled sweets and caramels, and Hall’s “Mentho-lyptus tablets” was the principal product. 185 people were employed.
Halls cough drops were introduced to the United States from 1953.
A fire destroyed the Whitefield factory in the early 1960s, and the site was rebuilt.
Sales were extended into London and the Home Counties in 1961. Over 20 percent of production was exported by 1962.
Hall Brothers is acquired by Warner Lambert
Warner Lambert, an American pharmaceuticals company best known for Listerine, acquired Hall Brothers for £1.3 million in 1964. The Hall Brothers directors, with 17 percent of the equity, supported the sale. Hall Brothers enjoyed strong growth, and Warner Lambert was keen to diversify. Warner Lambert already owned the Smiths Brothers cough sweet business in the United States.
Halls held around a third of the British cough drop market by the mid-1960s.
A new factory was established at Dumers Lane, Radcliffe, Lancashire in 1970. That same year, Hall Brothers received a Queen’s Award for export achievement.
Distribution of Halls in the United States increased significantly following the acquisition by Warner Lambert. Halls was the leading cough drop in the United States by 1971, and held 40 percent of the cough drop market by 1975.
Sales were developed in Latin America in the 1970s.
The Whitefield factory was closed in the late 1980s.
Halls had global sales of $258 million by 1988.
Thailand represented the second-largest territory for Halls sales after the United States by 1990. Halls sweets were marketed in the Southern hemisphere as a refreshment, rather than as a medical product.
Halls Soothers, a milder version of Mentho-Lyptus with a liquid centre and throat-soothing properties, were launched in the United Kingdom in 1992. Sales quickly came to overtake the original product in its home market.
Halls was the highest-selling cough drop in the world, with annual sales of over $400 million by 1993.
The Radcliffe site employed 600 people by 2000. The factory had an annual output of 30,000 tonnes of medicated confectionery, with 90 percent of production exported to America and Europe.
Subsequent owners and the end of production in Britain
Warner Lambert was acquired by Pfizer, a pharmaceuticals company, for $90.3 billion in 2000.
Cadbury Schweppes acquired Hall’s from Pfizer in 2002.
130 jobs were lost at the Radcliffe factory in 2004, after a proportion of production was relocated to Toronto in Canada.
The Radcliffe site was closed with the loss of a further 310 jobs in 2005. 80 percent of output was exported to the Americas, and it made economic sense to relocate production closer to the brand’s major markets.
Cadbury became a part of the Mondelez snacks group from 2012.
Halls accounts for 20 percent of medicated sweets sales worldwide, and is the leading sugar confectionery brand in the world according to research by Euromonitor. Its three largest markets are the United States, Brazil and Thailand. Sales amounted to $700 million in 2018.
Mondelez announced plans to divest the brand in 2022.