Five years on from Nestle's controversial takeover of Rowntree, Peter Wilsher considers to what extent the critics' fears were justified.
The sign next to the main gate of the world's biggest sweet factory changed last autumn from "Rowntree Mackintosh" to "Nestle - Nestle Rowntree Division". It took more than four years after 1988's bitterly contested takeover before the new management got around to making the switch. The local joke was that the maintainance department, in a spirit of historic loyalty, had somehow managed to mislay the order. But more probably the delay mirrored the Swiss multinational's general sensitivity as it set about absorbing and refashioning what had, for over a century, been the dominant corporate enterprise in the ancient city of York.