Ringtons Tea

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Industry Tea
Founder Samuel Smith, William Titterington
Headquarters Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

Ringtons is a tea manufacturing business based in Newcastle upon Tyne, North East England. It was founded in 1907[1] by Samuel Smith and delivered tea across the nation through a door to door service which still continues today. Although famous for tea, Ringtons soon sold other groceries and products including coffee, biscuits and sweets.

Ringtons History[edit]

The former Ringtons tea-packing factory, 78 Ladypit Lane, Beeston, Leeds

Samuel Smith was born in Leeds in 1872 and grew up in a small cottage on Ladypit Lane. With an initial investment of £250, Sam Smith started Ringtons with his business partner William Titterington in the Heaton area of Newcastle upon Tyne. An initial stock of tea was purchased and the business begun, delivering direct to customers' homes.

The business soon flourished and Sam moved to larger premises, buying out William's share of the business. Ringtons truly became a family company when Sam's son Douglas Smith joined starting as a van boy.

In 1914 World War I hit and with it came the advent of rationing and Rington's workers called up to the front. These developments almost put a stop to trade and Sam Smith found himself diversifying the Ringtons range to include dried eggs, baking powder, canned meats, fish and pickles. After the war, there was a rebirth of the business and Sam Smith wherever possible employed ex-servicemen and opened up 48 depots as his business grew.

With a post-war boom in business Sam opened a purpose-built factory and six-storey head office in Algernon Road, Newcastle upon Tyne in 1926. The business continued to grow and in 1935 Ringtons expanded the tea packing department and built a packing factory on the site of the house where he had been born in Leeds.

Although the business was expanding and everyone was working hard through difficult economic times, Sam ensured that his employees' welfare was paramount and as an annual event trips to Scarborough were enjoyed by the staff and their families as a reward for all of their efforts.

World War II brought with it a succession of severe setbacks for the business and over 400 Ringtons' employees were called to the forces including Sam's grandsons. Sam donated his own car to the ambulance corps and the company was compelled to take 200 vans off the road in 1943. Samuel Smith was not to witness the historic changes that were to follow in the post war era. He died on 12 August 1949, aged 77. His will left sons Douglas and Malcolm with shares in the business and at the age of 50 Douglas took over Ringtons, to be joined by sons Norman, Douglas Junior and Jonnie.

In 1972, Douglas’s son Johnnie took over at Ringtons and when he began this new role his eldest son Nigel also joined the business as a Trainee Buyer. In 1975, Ringtons won an account to supply to Marks and Spencer (which they continue to do today). The decade was rounded off by a VIP visit to Algernon Road from none other than 'Iron Lady' Margaret Thatcher in 1979. The Conservative leader told of her preference for tea bags, noting they are "much more convenient". Throughout the 80's, Nigel's brothers Simon and Colin joined the business and were able to gain valuable and expert knowledge from all over the world. Over the next 30 years, the fourth generation of the Smith family brought in many changes, including the introduction of innovative vacuum-packing techniques (to deliver a truly fresh cuppa from the tea gardens of Kenya) and the construction of a custom-built factory in North Tyneside.

Ringtons Doorstep Delivery[edit]

Ringtons door to door service delivers to over 280,000 customers throughout the UK.

Ringtons Online Store[edit]

The Ringtons Online Store provides teas, coffees, loose teas, sweets, biscuits and gifts to purchase online and delivered worldwide.

Ringtons Beverages[edit]

The wholesale division of Ringtons has been established for over 30 years. Ringtons Beverages supply tea, coffee, supplies and machines to the nations hospitality trade. From cafes and restaurants to hotels and offices, the department is a one stop shop for all beverages requirements. Ringtons Beverages offer includes everything from product to crockery, disposable cups and ancillaries through to high volume commercial equipment.