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Andrew Melrose


1789 - 1855

Tea merchant and grocer. Most likely born in Penicuik, Melrose was apprenticed to Robert Sheppard, a tea and spirit dealer based in Edinburgh. Sheppard provided Melrose with the model for his own business, through taking advantage of circumstances and aggressive marketing. Sheppard retired in 1812 and Melrose began his own business in the Canongate. Three years later took over Sheppard's former shop on South Bridge. Other shops followed, together with a warehouse on Drummond Street, and he delivered throughout Britain. By 1823, he was able to buy Pendreich House by Lasswade as his home.

Melrose incentivised his employees with annual salary increments and a profit-sharing scheme. He gained the best possible prices by obtaining supplies from around the country and on the Continent. He sourced wine from France, Spain and Italy, cheese from the Netherlands and, by 1835, was importing his own tea from China via Jardine, Matheson and Co. His was the first British company to legally obtain tea independently of the East India Company. In January 1836 alone, 1000 cases of tea arrived in Leith for Melrose.

His son William continued to build the success of the company, which eventually became part of the Premier Foods conglomerate. A new factory opened in 1988 at Newcraighall next to the Fort Kinnaird shopping complex producing on high-quality speciality and herbal teas, but this closed in 2004, ending an association with Edinburgh stretching back almost two centuries. The following year, Premier Foods sold their tea division, including the Melrose brand, to the Apeejay Surrendra Group of Calcutta (India).


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