A Burton company was flying high in the world of top-class confectionery in 1989 – and was beating Belgian masters at their own game.
Crown Royale, based in Paget Street, produced quality chocolates and built up a formidable reputation in the confectionery world. Managing director Mike Crowne began the business with his son, Darren, in 1981 at Forest Farm, in Yoxall.
The farm had been converted to bring the working area up to the very strict standards demanded by the food industry as well as his customers. The company was so successful in the early years that larger premises soon had to be found.
The company moved to a 12,000 sq ft factory unit at Paget Street, Burton, in 1987 and orders were booming. Mr Crowne had not always been a confectioner.
Speaking in July 1989, he said: "I got the idea when I was working on the installation of an aluminium furnace in Belgium. During my stay I met a confectioner who showed me around the factory. I was very interested and so I approached him to ask about training and that was it.
"My son, Darren, and myself went over to learn the trade and came back with the knowledge we needed to start a business."
By July 1989, the company employed 16 people and made high-quality chocolate which was sold all over the world. The company was shipping out more than 2,000 boxes of mints a week to go to Monarch Airlines for that after-dinner refresher.
During the same period in the mid-1980s, the company spent in the region of £140,000 buying the latest equipment the industry had to offer and supermarket giant Sainsbury's ordered its first batch of hand-made chocolates.
Other orders were also in the pipeline for Menzies as well as Hoverspeed. Among the list of famous customers included the Sultan of Oman, plus the firm also produced a special box of goodies to celebrate the marriage of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson which sold at Harrods for £150 a box.
In a Sunday Times survey published in 1989, Crown Royale achieved a three-star rating. This rating meant the company came lower than only two other brands – both of which were based in Belgium.