It was 1st May 1915, when Alfred E Haigh opened the doors of the very first Haigh’s Chocolates store in the Beehive Building at 34 King William Street, Adelaide South Australia.
Alfred began adding his own flavour to the industry and in 1917 he started producing chocolate-covered fruit centres. Business was booming and it was time to expand. Alfred bought the family home and land in Parkside, South Australia where he built a small two roomed factory and moved all manufacturing to the site in 1919, which is now home to our factory and Visitor Centre. In 1923, he moved shops to the Beehive Corner – still our Adelaide flagship store. Sadly, in 1933, Alfred passed away suddenly. His son Claude took over the running of the business, which had by then grown to six stores.
During the war years, supplies were difficult. Yet despite the sugar rationing Haigh’s managed to keep on trading, making boiled sweets and wrapped toffees for the armed forces.
Alfred’s grandson, John Haigh, joined the business in 1946 with a vision to take Haigh’s chocolate making to new heights. He trained in Switzerland with Lindt and Sprungli and visited the US to look at production, shop styles and marketing. John revolutionised the way we manufactured our chocolate and in 1959 became Managing Director until 1990.
During the 1950s and 60s, Haigh’s chocolates were also sold at the movies. In those days, movie-goers bought their treats from the Haigh’s counters and the Haigh’s ‘tray boys’ and ‘tray girls’ who stood at the front of the screen during interval.
In the 1960s television took over from cinema as a form of entertainment so John Haigh looked elsewhere to grow the business. In 1965 Haigh’s opened the first store outside South Australia, in Collins Street Melbourne, where Haigh’s chocolates proved to be just as popular.
More than any other person, John Haigh is responsible for the taste of Haigh’s chocolates as we know it today. He transformed Haigh’s into a manufacturer of premium quality chocolate that is internationally acclaimed and recognised among the world’s best.
Besides the quality and the taste of the product, he also refined the exclusivity of the Haigh’s in-store experience and the way in which Haigh’s is marketed to this day. He built the foundation for an Adelaide family business that is expanding and trading strongly around Australia.
At Haigh’s we’re very proud to be the oldest family-owned chocolate maker in Australia. Today the company is run by fourth generation Haigh's, Alister and Simon, who joined the business in the 1970s and worked their way through all areas of the company. They’ve been joint Managing Directors since 1990.