Still Number One in British mints.
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Wartime had taught the directors that buying other businesses, and their ration allocation, was a good way to grow. The firm now embarked on an acquisition spree to harness the opportunities of peacetime. Companies such as the Bristol Sweet Supply Co and R&J Scholes were combined within a national wholesaler called Moffat – a seemingly independent supplier, whose link with Trebor remained secret until 1959.
Woodford Avenue in East London became important to the firm, first with a factory, then an export warehouse and, in 1956, a brand new headquarters called Trebor House. Overseas, the firm did well in countries such as Nigeria, Malaya and the West Indies, helping confectionery to become the third-largest food export for ration-ravaged Britain. In 1957 the firm proudly celebrated its fiftieth birthday with Golden Jubilee parties and promotions.
Woodford and Trebor House
Further out in East London arose a new factory and the firm’s first headquarters building.
In May 1949 the firm started negotiations to buy some property in Woodford Avenue, Ilford. Sidney Bonner had been looking out for somewhere to expand production in East London as Forest Gate was already full to capacity. He found a disused coachworks five miles further out in the eastern suburbs, with a large bungalow and garden offering room for expansion. Once it was purchased, Cyril Robertson took charge of converting the coachworks into a sweet factory; this was not easy as it had been used to make tank shells during the war. The firm brought there its production of compressed sugar goods such as Extra Strong Mints and Refreshers.
Behind the Woodford factory the firm built a warehouse in 1954 to handle export packing and despatch. The newly emerging customers from Lagos and Baghdad, Hong Kong and Toronto may have liked the same sweets as the good people of London and Manchester, but they needed them packaged differently. At the same time it was far too expensive to export the goods in glass jars. This warehouse specialised in serving each market in the way it demanded.
Later in 1956, on the site of the bungalow, a brand new headquarters arose – bursting with all the modern style of the time – which was aptly named Trebor House just like the first premises back in 1907. This provided offices for the directors and managers, along with space for the fast-growing administration staff.
Alf Dixon, factory manager at Woodford from the early 1950s, later recalled:
‘The factory started up with two Hartmann and Stein roll-wrappers on which we wrapped round tablets embossed with the name Trebor. We also had two wrappers for square Refresher-type sweets called Frubes and Fizzets, and two more machines for wrapping rectangular mints for export to Nigeria under the brand name Peerless Mints.
‘The sugar was delivered from Tate & Lyle in two hundredweight hessian sacks, to be tipped into the sugar mills. In those days the sugar mills were always exploding and dried powder was piled up in half-hundredweight sacks, which had to be manually tipped into the mixers for damping down and flavouring. We made about eighty to ninety tons a week. Brian Jarvis was king of the export warehouse – he was an expert at strapping and stencilling the huge wooden cartons we used for sending tins of toffee and peppermints abroad.’
In March 1956 the firm’s management and administrative staff moved into the new Trebor House. Built alongside the Woodford Factory in East London, this remained the firm’s headquarters until the sale to Cadbury in 1989. In 1979 the firm upgraded the building with a complete new top floor.