Now here’s an entrepreneur

The family’s only concession to entrepreneurialism was opening a kiosk on the promenade each summer to sell the lozenges to holidaymakers from Lancastrian mill towns who were staying in the boarding houses of nearby Blackpool and made a day trip on the tram to Fleetwood. Many suffered from respiratory problems as a result of unhealthy working conditions in the mills. On their return they would write to Lofthouse of Fleetwood to ask where they could buy the lozenges locally.

One day in 1963 Doreen picked up a pile of these letters and suggested to no little bemusement that she make a tour of Lancashire’s mill towns in her battered MG and visit every local chemist to show them the letters as proof that the product would soon disappear from their shelves. “They thought I was a little crazy,” she recalled.

The family gave her permission but no money for petrol. Diminutive, neat and attractive, the fiercely determined Mrs Lofthouse set off on her expedition, depending on a sale to buy the petrol to drive to the next town. She returned with dozens of orders.

That is, to a large extent, she did build that……

The product’s retro packaging also proved a hit overseas. The distinctive black and red lettering had first come about because Doreen’s mother-in-law, Frances Lofthouse, had originally typed the words “Extra Strong” in red, underneath Fisherman’s Friend in black, because she did not want to waste the red ink on the typewriter.

Canny folk up there, eh?

6 thoughts on “Now here’s an entrepreneur”

  1. The Telegraph had her obit weeks ago.

    V popular in Germany, Fishermans Friend. I have not encountered Trebor mints over there.

  2. From the (paywalled) article:
    By 1994 it was Britain’s biggest branded food export to Germany, which would import some 100 million packets a year.

  3. She was quite a character. On my first visit to the factory I had quite a chat with the elderly receptionist whilst waiting for the buyer to come down. I mentioned this during the meeting and asked how long she’d been there. He laughed and said, since the beginning! That’s Doreen. She covers lunch breaks on reception sometimes.
    Well known in the local pubs too.

  4. Julian Clary put the name to good use: “Sometimes when I’m bored I feel like sucking a Fisherman’s Friend…”

  5. In Singapore, every traditional Chinese medicine shop (roughly every second retail outlet) had a greater variety of flavours of Fisherman’s Friends than I’d ever seen in Britain.

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