Although an American company, the UK branch holds it’s own and has developed confectionery not sold in the US.

Mars Limited is the name of the British branch of Mars, Inc. The company is based in Slough, UK. Mars brands manufactured for the UK market but not for the US include Maltesers and Dove chocolate.

In 1932, Forrest Mars, Sr., opened what was then Mars (Europe) headquarters, and remains Mars (UK) headquarters in Slough, UK on the then-new Slough Trading Estate after a disagreement with his father, Frank C. Mars. In this factory, he produced the first Mars Bar, based on the American Milky Way. In 1936, Mars separated the vanilla version of Milky Way to a separate brand, Forever Yours, which was discontinued and later reintroduced as Milky Way Dark and later still, Milky Way Midnight.

Many brands which were later introduced in the US were first created and sold in Britain which includes Starburst, Skittles, Twix, Snickers and Topic.

Milky Way in Europe and worldwide is known as the 3 Musketeers in America. Similarly, the Snickers bar was previously marketed in Britain and the Republic of Ireland as Marathon until 1990. Galaxy is known as Dove in America and the Republic of Ireland and the Middle East and Starburst was known in the UK and Ireland as Opal Fruits until 1998.

In 1963 a large factory was opened in Veghel, the Netherlands. This factory has currently the biggest production volume of Mars factories and is even one of the biggest chocolate factories in the world. Most confectionery products for Europe are produced in Slough, UK and Veghel, the Netherlands.

History of Mars

Frank C. Mars, whose mother taught him to hand dip candy, sold candy by age 19. The Mars Candy Factory he started in 1911 with Ethel V. Mars, his second wife, in Tacoma, Washington, ultimately failed but it had already become a large employer, producing and selling fresh candy wholesale. By 1920, Frank Mars had returned to his home state, Minnesota, where the company was founded that year as Mar-O-Bar Co. in Minneapolis and later incorporated there as Mars, Incorporated. Forrest Mars, son of Frank Mars and his first wife who was also named Ethel, was inspired by a popular type of milkshake in 1923, to introduce the Milky Way bar, advertised as a “chocolate Malted Milk in a candy bar”, and became the best-selling candy bar. Around 1929, Frank moved the company to the Chicago, Illinois, area and in 1932, Forrest started Mars Limited in the United Kingdom, and launched the Mars Bar.

Mars is still a family owned business, belonging to the Mars family. The company is famous for its secrecy. A 1993 Washington Post Magazine article was a rare raising of the veil, as the reporter was able to see the “M”s being applied to the M&M’s, something that “no out-sider had ever before been invited to observe.” In 1999, for example, the company did not acknowledge that Forrest Mars, Sr., had died or that he had worked for the company.

The company argues that due to private ownership, there is no need to account to anyone but themselves. In the same spirit, Mars, Inc., does not cooperate with many widely publicized organizations, such as Fair trade, arguing that its own internal standards deliver even better results. An example is the company’s Cocoa Sustainability initiative.

Despite its secrecy, Mars, Incorporated has developed a reputation across its leading markets to be excellent training grounds for managers. In the United Kingdom for instance, many CEOs of large companies learned their trade at Mars, Inc., including former Mars executives Allan Leighton and Justin King, the former appointed CEO of the supermarket chain Asda and then the British postal service Royal Mail, with the latter presently the CEO of the retailer J Sainsbury plc. Recently, the company caught on to that and re-branded their employer brand to “Mars — The Ultimate Business School”.

Moving into the fourth generation of family ownership, the company recently passed from family leadership into non-family leadership however, the business is still owned by the family. The global CEO of Mars, Inc. is Paul Michaels. Michaels is part of a new group of non-family management that has taken over since the retirement of John and Forrest Mars, Jr.. The family now oversees the business as a council or board of directors.

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