Rowntree’s was a confectionery business based in York, England. It is now a historic brand currently owned by Nestlé that is used to market a range of fruit gums and pastilles formerly owned by that business. The Company following merger with John Mackintosh & Co. became known as Rowntree Mackintosh.
History of Rowntree’s
Rowntree’s was founded in York in 1862 by Henry Isaac Rowntree, who bought the chocolate company from the Tuke family. In 1869 he was joined by his brother the philanthropist Joseph Rowntree. The original factory was in the centre of the City of York, next to the River Ouse at Tanners Moat, but relocated in 1906 to Haxby Road in the north of the City.
The Company merged with rival Mackintosh’s in 1969 to become Rowntree Mackintosh. Rowntree was responsible for such British chocolate favorites as Kit Kat, Smarties, Aero, Fruit Pastilles and Black Magic, whilst John Mackintosh and Co. were behind Rolo, Munchies, Caramac and Quality Street.
The company went public in 1987 and was the subject of a takeover battle between Nestlé and Jacobs Suchard in 1988. Nestlé eventually won control with an offer valuing Rowntree at $4.55billion. The takeover was controversial at the time as Nestlé was effectively protected from similar takeover attempts under Swiss law. After the Nestlé takeover the Rowntree chocolate ranges began to use the branding Nestlé-Rowntree, before eventually the Rowntree name was dropped from the packaging altogether, except on Rowntree’s Cocoa and the famous ‘fruit-pastilles’ and ‘fruit gums’ where Rowntree retained its name on the packaging. The Mackintosh branding was dropped from all former Rowntree Mackintosh products, except for Mackintosh’s Toffee, which retained the Mackintosh branding.
The Nestle-Rowntree factory in Norwich was closed in 1994 moving Rolo, Yorkie and Easter egg production to York.
In September 2006, it was announced that the manufacture of Smarties was to be moved abroad causing 646 job losses at the York factory.
In May 2009, Nestle launched Randoms, a new jelly sweet, under the Rowntree brand.