Brooke Bond & Co. was established in 1869 by Arthur Brooke, the son of a wealthy tea dealer. There was no partner named Bond, the name was added to the company’s title simply because Arthur Brooke felt it sounded better.
The first tea shop was opened in Manchester and Brooke began producing his own blends by mixing different teas. The company expanded quickly with new shops opening in Liverpool, Bradford and Leeds and in 1872 the headquarters were moved to London.
After several years of struggle, the company began to thrive again in the 1880s when Brooke began supplying teas to grocers shops. Success enabled the firm to expand around the world and to invest in its own tea plantations. In 1892 it was incorporated as Brooke Bond & Co. Ltd.
Arthur Brooke retired in 1904 and his son Gerald took over the business. Red Label tea was launched in India and in 1911 the company opened a packing factory in Stepney, east London.
Brooke Bond’s most famous brand, P. G. Tips, was introduced in 1930. By 1957 Brooke Bond was probably the largest tea company in the world, with a one third share of both the British and Indian tea markets.
The different Brooke Bond blends and an innovative approach to advertising (notably through tea cards) guaranteed further success but increasing competition convinced the company to join forces with the Leibig company in 1968. Leibig’s success had been based on Oxo, a cube of beef concentrate which had been invented in 1847 by Baron Justus von Liebig.
In 1988 Brooke Bond Oxo merged with Batchelors & Co. to form Brooke Bond Foods and in 1995 it was merged into Van den Bergh Foods, a subsidiary of Unilever.