Subsidiary Companies

Ice Cream


Glacier Foods Ltd

Ice Cream manufacture during World War 2 had been banned. Not because there was a shortage of ingredients but because it was classified as a luxury. The government felt its continuing manufacture, while almost everything else was rationed, would give the wrong message to the long suffering public.

After the war, production soon started and the likes of Lyons and Walls picked up where they had left off. What these companies failed to recognise was the cultural change the war had brought about. The company continued to trade on its past reputation and in the case of ice cream this had been very high. They rejected the idea of entering into the ice lolly market emerging in the late 1940s because it did not fit easily with their own preconceptions; it was seen as a poor mans alternative. At this time they rejected the idea of buying into a company called Glacier Foods Ltd because of this misplaced view. However, the lolly market began to gain in importance and when an opportunity presented itself again in 1951 the opportunity was taken.

Glacier Foods Ltd had been started by Guy Lawrence (later Sir Guy) whom Julian Salmon had known when Lawrence was serving in Bomber Command during the war. Salmon raised the question of a possible acquisition and after some preliminary discussions it was agreed that Lyons should buy the business and that Lawrence should continue to run it. They agreed price of £71,000 and this was raised by issuing preference shares in Lyons. As a young man Guy Lawrence had been a champion skier and at the outbreak of war joined Bomber Command, flying over fifty missions into Germany and occupied territories, and winning the DSO and DFC. During the last year of the war he was a group captain on the staff of Bomber Command headquarters and for these services was awarded an OBE. In the 1945 general election Lawrence stood as Liberal candidate for the Colne Valley constituency but was beaten by the Labour candidate. Afterwards he started an aircraft-engineering and freight-carrying business in Buckinghamshire but sold it after four years and bought the ice lolly factory in Maidenhead.

The Maidenhead factory was one of the most successful in exploiting the ice lolly market and by 1951 it was supplying the wholesale trade. Lawrence had bought what was then called the Koola Fruta Company from two bankrupt entrepreneurial speculators while it was in receivership. After he renamed it Glacier Foods Ltd, he continued to specialise in making ice lollies and retained the Koola Fruta range, which later included Koola Kreems, lollies containing milk solids. In 1954 the Orange Maid ice lolly was launched as 'a drink on a stick'; made from frozen fresh orange juice, it was wrapped in foil and sold at the then high price of 6d. Guy , who continued to run Glacier Foods after Lyons had bought it from him, went on to make important contributions to Lyons' ice-cream business in the years following, becoming a main board director in 1966 and deputy chairman. He was knighted in 1976. Lyons could not have realize when they entered the ice lolly market just how dominant a part it would play in their ice cream strategy. Apart from the innovative designs/names the new products required, entirely new machinery would become necessary to satisfy the huge demand, not just from the young end of the market, but also in adult lines. A tentative post-war innovation had dramatic effects on the ice cream industry.

After the new Lyons Maid Bridge Park factory opened in 1955 the Maidenhead factory closed and production was transferred to Bridge Park. Lyons retained the Glacier Foods name using it as a holding company to manipulate other ice cream acquisitions/sales. Lyons Maid used the Glacier name for their offices in Hammersmith (Glacier House) and when they moved to Cadby Hall's Elms House in an office reorganization in 1977, this was renamed Glacier House to the annoyance of many old-timers.


© Peter Bird 2005