Is it the end of the line for Highland Toffee and Wham Bars?

By Michelle Knott

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Confectionery, Fudge

Scottish brands Highland Toffee and Wham Bars are among the familiar names under threat as the company that owns them goes into administration for the third time in six years.

Trevor O’Sullivan and Rob Caven took over the running of the New McCowans for joint administrators Grant Thornton at the end of last week.

A spokeswoman for Grant Thornton told that the search for new owners is already well underway: “The joint administrators have received some expressions of interest about acquiring the business as a going concern. The company has not ceased to trade, however the [Stenhousemuir] factory has closed pending the outcome of those discussions.”

She added that the administrators will keep workers informed of any progress. They met with representatives of the company’s 103 staff on Tuesday and another meeting is scheduled for Friday.


New McCowans was formed in 2006 after the previous incarnation of the company, Millar McCowan went into administration. Millar McCowan in turn was formed in 2005 as a result of a merger of McCowan and John Millar & Sons which had both been bought out of receivership. The company fell into administration just a year later with the loss of 149 jobs across its Stenhousemuir and Broxburn factories.

Investment fund Principal Capital Management then took over and formed New McCowans, rationalising production last year by closing the Broxburn plant and shifting some of the workers to Stenhousemuir.

Long history

McCowan and John Millar were two of Scotland’s most iconic confectionery companies.

John Millar launched Millars in 1844 as a bakery in Leith, which expanded to sell sweets made at the back of the shop. Millars is best known for its boiled sweets as the maker of Pan Drops and Chocolate Limes.

McCowans began selling sweets in the early 1900s and started producing toffee chews – the forerunners of the Highland Toffee bar - in Stenhousemuir in the 1920s. The company was subsequently taken over by Swiss food conglomerate Nestlé and then Dutch confectioner Phideas, before returning to Scottish ownership in 2003.

Related topics: Manufacturers

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