Type Public
Industry Confectionery
Fate Acquired in 1988
Successor Nestlé
Founded 1862
Headquarters York, England
Key people Henry Isaac Rowntree
Joseph Rowntree

Rowntree's was a confectionery business based in York, England. It is now a historic brand owned by Nestlé, used to market a range of fruit gums and pastilles formerly owned by Rowntree's. Following a merger with John Mackintosh & Co., the Company became known as Rowntree Mackintosh, was listed on the London Stock Exchange, and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It was acquired by Nestlé in 1988.



Rowntree's was founded in York in 1862 by Henry Isaac Rowntree, who bought a chocolate company from the Tuke family.[1] In 1869, he was joined by his brother, the philanthropist Joseph Rowntree.[1] The original factory was in the centre of the City of York, by the River Ouse at Tanners Moat, but was relocated in 1906 to Haxby Road in the north of the City.[1]

The Company merged with Mackintosh's in 1969, to become Rowntree Mackintosh.[1] Rowntree was responsible for such chocolate favourites as Kit Kat, Smarties, Aero, Fruit Pastilles and Black Magic,[1] while John Mackintosh and Co. produced Rolo, Munchies, Caramac and Quality Street.[1]

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.[2] The takeover was controversial, as Nestlé was effectively protected from similar takeover attempts under Swiss law.[3] 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"[4] and "Fruit Gums".[5] The "Mackintosh" branding was dropped from all former Rowntree Mackintosh products, except for Mackintosh's Toffee, which retained the branding.[6]

The Nestlé Rowntree factory in Norwich closed in 1994, and Rolo, Yorkie and Easter-egg production was moved to York.[7] This site is now the Chapelfield Shopping Mall.

In September 2006, it was announced that the manufacture of Smarties was to be moved abroad, causing 646 job-losses at the York factory.[8]

In May 2009, Nestlé launched a new jelly sweet, Randoms, under the Rowntree brand.[9]

Current branded products

  • Rowntree's Fruit Gums
  • Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles
  • Rowntree's Fruit Pastilles Body Parts (discontinued in UK)
  • Rowntree's Beetles and Butterflies
  • Rowntree's Fruity Frogs
  • Rowntree's Xtra Sour Spiders
  • Rowntree's Wiggly Worms
  • Rowntree's Bursting Bugs (discontinued in UK)
  • Rowntree's Megabeans
  • Rowntree's Tooty Frooties
  • Rowntree's CoCo
  • Rowntree's Jelly Tots
  • Rowntree's Randoms
  • Rowntree's Sour Pastilles

The Rowntree brand is also used on a number of ice lollies (made by Richmond Foods) for Nestlé. The brand has a similar marketplace to that of the Trebor Bassett division of Cadbury's, and competes head-to-head with this company in a number of fruit-gum categories.

Former Rowntree-branded products now re-branded as Nestlé include Walnut Whip.

Changes to famous brands

Since Nestlé took over Rowntree Mackintosh's brands, there has been much criticism of the way that the company has changed them. Nestlé acquired the business to secure the five principal brands: Kit Kat, Aero, Polo, Fruit Pastilles, and Quality Street. Since taking over Rowntree-Mackintosh, the following changes have been made:

  • The Quality Street Brazil nut covered in chocolate became a hazelnut in a chocolate shell still shaped like a Brazil nut. Large, individually-sold Quality Street sweets were also introduced.[10]
  • Kit Kat went from being foil-and-paper-wrapped to being plastic-wrapped. This later became 'flow-wrapped' foil. Variants were also introduced, including a chunky bar and alternative flavours.[11]
  • Smarties had their blue sweets temporarily replaced by white, as Nestlé rejected artificial colours in their sweets. Blue was later brought back into the mix, thanks to a dye from Spirulina). Smarties are now sold in "hexa-tube" hexagonal cardboard containers that replace the traditional cylindrical tube.[12]

Sports team


  1. ^ a b c d e f History of Nestlé Rowntree
  2. ^ New York Times Archive, Company news; Suchard Drops Out; published 25 June 1988, accessed 26 August 2007
  3. ^ UK: Nestle Rowntree - A bittersweet tale.
  4. ^ Rowntrees: Fruit Pastilles
  5. ^ Rowntrees: Fruit Gums
  6. ^ Here's looking at chew The Grocer, 31 May 1997
  7. ^
  8. ^ Guardian Unlimited website (Guardian newspaper): 645 jobs lost as Nestlé ships Smarties abroad; published 21 September 2006, accessed 26 August 2007
  9. ^ Nestle UK to roll out Rowntree Randoms
  10. ^ Nestlé: Quality Street
  11. ^ Nestlé: Kit Kat
  12. ^ Nestlé: Chocolate sweets

External links

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