Department Index
Products Index-Group 5 Confectionery 

Chocolate Sales vehicle 1925-6

Mint Chocs. Picture 1952

Picture 1951

Wrapper 1940

......Chocolate Sales..Office........


Chocolate Sales Office

In the office organisation of Lyons, the Chocolate Sales Office was described as: 'the Office attached to the Chocolate Sales Department'. The Chocolate Sales Department was originally formed in 1921 and was operated by a traveller service (salesmen) with deliveries by rail from Greenford. A year later the Wholesale Tea Department started what was first known as the Confectionery Van Sales section of the department, and in 1926 this section was transferred to the Chocolate Sales Department. The Van Section gradually covered the entire country with the exception of Scotland. Although good progress was made, it was felt that the Van Sales system prevented the sale of chocolate and confectionery through the better class channels and a regular traveller operated service was re-introduced, with deliveries from selected centres throughout the country (four centres in London and centres at: Ashford, Belfast, Bristol, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Plymouth, Southampton and Swansea).

This arrangement operated until the outbreak of the Second World War when zoning and rationing was introduced by the government. The various sweet manufacturers co-operated and agreed to deliver each other's goods. By 1942 fifty per cent of the Chocolate Sales Department staff were serving in the forces and the supply of sugar cocoa and other ingredients became increasingly reduced. As a result many of Lyons' small depots closed and finally only Greenford was left. Although the combined delivery system ended after the war, arrangements were made with Rowntree to continue to deliver many of the Lyons confectionery orders. They handled bulk deliveries outside the Greenford area which resulted in considerable savings in manpower and packing materials since goods could be despatched in bulk which would otherwise have to be sent to each agent (shop) separately by rail.

In pre-war days the Chocolate Sales Office employed a staff of 45, a third of whom were typists and secretaries. However, as a result of rationing and the re-oganisation of the sales methods caused by war-time conditions the numbers were reduced to eight full-time and six part-time clerks in 1951. The Order Group received orders for chocolate and sugar confectionery from all sources other than Lyons' own establishments. Until rationing ended in 1954, every order received was accompanied by a Personal Points Transfer Form correctly made out in all details as laid down by the Food Office authorities. These transfer forms, which represented the personal points spent with the individual shopkeepers, exactly balanced any accompanying order form. Any transfer forms which were invalid, for any reason, were passed to the Correspondence Group for return to the agents (shops) concerned. Before the war all areas of the British Isles were serviced by travellers or van salesmen, but after the war the northern counties, Scotland and Ireland were supplied on a mail order basis

After the war many of the Chocolate lines had been discontinued and some were never re-introduced. Some of the famous lines which disappeared were the Nippy Shillingsworth, introduced after 1925, and Dickens Chocolates. Before the war Slab chocolate was sold in a variety of types including milk nut, fruit & nut, orange, plain, walnut & fruit milk, brazil nut milk and coffee milk. In addition there was a very large range of boiled sweets, loose and in tins, toffee, fudge and Turkish delight but many of these were never re-introduced. In July 1947 Lyons did introduced a new range of confectionery known as the Mint Choc and the Greenford factory produced many tons of them each week. A number of experiments were made by the staff of the confectionery factory before a recipe was found for a cream centre with the required flavour and texture. The next task was to devise a machine to make the sweets and it was not long before five large machines had been introduced turning out Mint Chocs as fast as possible. The cream centres were made with sugar, glucose, fondant, white of egg and oil of peppermint mixed and heated. Pats of mixture were then placed on a belt at the rate of thousands a minute and as they cooled they passed under the chocolate enrobers. They were then packed in a green and white, 0.5 lb, carton which had a double windows, so that the chocolates could be seen twelve on each side, and the whole wrapped in Cellophane. The cartons were packed by hand.

The statistics associated with sales, including what were called progress percentage tables, showed the amount of business carried out by each salesman. Each salesman sent in daily summaries of calls made, orders booked, lines sold, etc. and it was the Order Group who checked these reports with the actual numbers of orders received. This was carried out at the end of every eight week period and a chart was then compiled showing the percentage of orders received against calls made. The periodic figures were consolidated into an annual total. Similar calculations were made for the total weights of sales made over and above each shop's basic allocation. Awards were made to salesmen for the best results over the year.

The Correspondence Group endeavoured to ensure prompt handling and reply to all queries received, whether from salesmen (or representative) or shop-keepers. This included dealing with delays in delivery, pilferages, incorrect transfer forms, intelligence summaries, sales instructions and general correspondence. In the early 1950s the Sales Department had re-introduced advertising by means of window displays and sign-writing. Salesmen were notified of the display dates allocated to their territory and they arranged the dressings with the shop-keepers.

The post-war sales of chocolate and confectionery were very modest and the department lacked the funds to re-build and develop new lines. Much of the machinery used in baking and ice cream manufacture had been neglected during the war years and more emphasis was given to these core departments than the modest confectionery operation at Greenford. A decision was taken in May 1960 to sell the chocolate and confectionery business to Callard & Bowser Ltd. This did not include the chocolates and limited confectionery which were made at the Corner Houses.

See: Products Index-Group 5 Confectionery 

© Peter Bird 2005