Brjóstsykursgerðin Nói was founded in 1920. The founders, Gísli Guðmundsson, Loftur Guðmundsson, Eiríkur Bech, Hallur Þorleifsson, and Þorgils Ingvarson all contributed 1,100 ISK in starting capital, for a total of 5,500 ISK. Þorgils Ingvarsson became the first CEO of the company, with Eiríkur Bech taking over as CEO in 1924.
The initial startup could be found in a basement room in Óðinsgata 17 where caramels and six types of hard candy were produced.
The company quickly outgrew its first facility, and a new production facility was built on Smiðjustígur. Soon after, Nói started producing juice, soya, and sodas.
A Sweet Deal
In 1924, H. Benediktsson & Co. acquired a majority stake in Nói. H. Benediktsson was a wholesaler who ran one of the more successful trading companies at that time.
Versatility at the Core
We’ve not always been just a chocolate- and candy manufacturer. In 1930, Nói bought the soap factory Hreinn, which established a market for domestically made soap. Hreinn also produced candles, shoeshine, and the soap powder Hreinshvítt, to name a few.
Years of Progress – Síríus and Barónsstígur
During these years in Iceland, there were import restrictions on sweets, along with increased tariffs on sugar and cocoa. Raw materials were also rationed.
In 1933, Nói bought the chocolate factory Síríus (est. 1895) from the known candy manufacturer Galle & Jessen.The purchase of Síríus was a turning point for the company, and Nói started manufacturing chocolate.
That wasn’t the only thing that changed: in the same year we bought Síríus, we moved to our own facility on Barónsstígur. The companies Nói, Hreinn, and Síríus were all run as independent entities under the same roof.
Production of Assorted Chocolates
Ever since the manufacturing of assorted chocolates or “konfekt” began, it has played a central role during Icelandic holidays – especially Christmas. During these years, before Nói and Síríus became one and the same company, Síríus would sell chocolate to Nói. This is why we call it Nóa Konfekt and not Nóa Síríus Konfekt.
We also began production of our beloved Easter eggs around that same time.
Tópas Sees the Light of Day
Midway through the last century, we started making Tópas, liquorice tablets, which has been a popular treat ever since.
In 1954, Ingileif Bryndís Hallgrímsdóttir became the chairwoman of the board at only 35 years old. Ingileif held the chairwomanship until 2004, when she retired at 85 years of age. During Ingileif’s time as a chairwoman, it was rare that women held such leadership positions. Even today, only a quarter of Icelandic companies have female chairpersons.
Expertise for the Sake of Quality
In 1955, Hallgrímur Björnsson (to the right in the photo) became CEO. Hallgrímur had studied chemical engineering. His expertise led to increased product quality across all products, as he put great emphasis on that a good product could never be produced from bad ingredients. Thus, all our ingredients are carefully selected.
The product range grows larger and a new selection is made available, for example Malta wafers. The company thrived and by the end of the sixties, when the company celebrated its 50th anniversary, Nói and Síríus held close to a quarter of the domestic market share.
In 1970, Iceland joined EFTA, the European Free Trade Association. Until then, import of sweets had been banned and sweets sold in Iceland were almost exclusively produced by Icelandic candy manufacturers. After the import restriction was eased, 100% tariffs were added on imported sweets. The customs were decreased by 10% per year for the next 10 years.
In 1977, the facility on Barónsstígur couldn’t accommodate the production any longer, and a part of it was moved to Suðurlandsbraut 4. The same year Nói and Síríus were finally merged under the name Nói Síríus hf.
The import of foreign sweets grew from 1970, and in 1981 the import tariffs were eliminated. Icelandic candy manufacturers were suddenly facing competition from larger foreign manufacturers. Despite this fact, local production didn’t decrease. Altered market conditions call for operational adjustments and the years since 1981 have have been characterized by constant product development, especially due to foreign competition. It has resulted in the creation of many of Icelanders’ favorite brands, such as Nóa Kropp and Eitt Sett.
In 1981, Kristinn Björnsson took over as CEO of Nói Síríus.
Finnur Geirsson took over as CEO in 1990, the third one to serve that role for more than a quarter of a century. His first task was to find new housing for the company.
Home at Last – Hestháls
In 1993, we moved to our current location, Hestháls, which has since become a recognizable landmark in Reykjavik.
Turnaround Year – Opal Joins the Family
1995 saw a change in company strategy where a decision was made that Nói Síríus would only be a food company. The operation under Hreinn was sold, and therewith we stopped manufacturing soaps, cleaning products, and candles.
At the end of 1995, we bought the brand Opal and its well-known products became a part of the ever growing Nói Síríus family, e.g. Opal, Trítlar, and Hálsmolar.
In 1996, Nói Síríus was nominated for an award for its new version of the classic Tópas liquorice tablets, Tópas with Xylitol. The purpose was to offer tablets that were good for dental health, but kept the same taste of the “good old green Tópas”. This was the first candy produced in Iceland that contains Xylitol.
At the turn of the century, we sent a few production machines to Latvia and set up a production company there. Shortly thereafter, we bought a share in Staburadze, a well-known biscuit manufacturer in Latvia. Later, that company bought a majority share in Laima, the biggest candy company in Latvia. Nói Síríus’s share was sold in 2004.
New Chairman Supersedes
In 2005, Áslaug Gunnarsdóttir superseded the role of chairwoman from her mother Ingileif. We’ve had chairwomen in our company since 1954.
Sweets on a Roll
In 2006 we bought a majority share in Elizabeth Shaw, an established English chocolate manufacturer. The shares were sold in 2009, and since then we’ve focused on exporting our own goods.
Export is now a big and increasing part of the operation, and we transport sweets to the United States, Canada, Denmark, and the Faroe Islands, to name a few.
Due to operational growth we had to expand, and in 2006 we added 1.800 square meters to our property in Hestháls. Our premises now count to over 8.000 square meters in total.
Cocoa Horizons Certification
In 2013, we were certified by Cocoa Horizons. This means that all raw cacao material we use for production is created according to an accredited process that amongst other helps cocoa farmers increase production in a responsible and sustainable way.
Traditional Icelandic Chocolate
With increased tourism in Iceland, a decision was made to introduce Icelandic chocolate and candy traditions to foreign visitors. This led to the creation of the brand Traditional Icelandic Chocolate. The reception of it has been remarkable, and we now sell a number of products at tourism sites throughout the country.
Big News from the World of Chocolate
Until 2018 there were only three types of chocolate: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. We received the honor of being one of the first chocolate producers to introduce the fourth type of chocolate, the pink ruby chocolate.
100 years of Nói Síríus
130 people work for Nói Síríus. Nói Síríus has been run as a family business for most of its days. The company produces a wide range of popular products that are cherished both within Iceland and abroad. The product selection is constantly increasing and packaging– and marketing trends are in constant evaluation in order to meet new customer needs. In the last 100 years, we‘ve been privileged with the unique opportunity to grow with the nation. Therefore, we have good reason to have a positive outlook on the future.