From the Alps to the Dales
– our Swiss Connection
The story of our family business doesn’t begin in Yorkshire but in Switzerland, where Bettys founder – Fritz Bützer – was born in 1890 to Johann Bützer, a miller and master baker, and Anna Maria Gfeller.
Tragedy seemed to surround the life of young Fritz. His mother died when he was still a baby and a few years later a fire at the Bützer’s mill in Wangen an der Aare left Fritz and his older sister Ida orphaned. While Ida was raised by relatives, they had no room for five-year-old Fritz. As was Swiss custom, he returned to his father’s birth town where he was fostered to a local farmer who pledged to provide food and shelter and send him to school. In practice, Fritz spent much of his childhood working as a farm labourer.
As soon as he was old enough, Fritz trained as an assistant baker and later travelled around Switzerland and France training as a confectioner and chocolatier. In 1907 he decided to seek his fortune in England.
On his arrival in London he realised he’d lost the address of his destination and ended up in Bradford quite by accident. Fortunately for us, he stayed in the Yorkshire town finding work at a Swiss-owned confectioners, Bonnet & Sons. Not long after arriving he wrote to his sister Ida back in Switzerland saying, “Maybe I will stay a while….”
Stay he did, soon settling in the spa town of Harrogate by which time he’d changed his name to Frederick Belmont and styled himself as a ‘Chocolate Specialist’. It was in Harrogate that Frederick’s luck started to change. Looking for lodgings, he fell in love and later married his landlady’s daughter, Claire Appleton. A few years later, in July 1919, with the financial support of Claire’s family the first Bettys opened for business.
A century later and whether it’s our commitment to relentless operational excellence, or our attention to detail and belief in doing things properly, Switzerland still has a clear place in our culture.
Frederick Belmont as a child