By the late 1990s A.L. Tozer had become a national seed company, but it was only at the turn of the century that, after a name change to Tozer Seeds, the company began its international expansion. Offices were created in Spain, and the USA and most recently Australia. Tozer Seeds is now very much an international seed company, although it remains independent and family owned with Dr. Peter Dawson as chairman and his son Laurence as a director. Tozer Seeds remains committed to innovation and quality; we continue to honour Arthur Tozer’s drive to create new vegetable varieties with great flavour, adaptability and field performance.
In the new millennium the company has continued to grow and has continued to be highly innovative, most notably with the introduction of the entirely new vegetable Kalette (originally Flower Sprout). From an initial introduction into a single UK retailer, Kalettes can now be found around the world. Other notable introductions have been F1 butternut squash suitable for short season production such as the variety Hunter, wild rocket varieties such as Voyager and Dragon’s Tongue, runner beans Moonlight and Firestorm with improved pod set and excellent flavour and Ramrod and Guardsman salad onions. Tozer Seeds is now the largest UK supplier of chilli peppers, with over 50 varieties available, and a major supplier of seed for speciality tomatoes.
During the 1970s and 1980s Peter expanded his breeding work and developed the world’s first hybrid parsnip Gladiator, released in 1982 followed by the market leader Javelin a few years after. The world’s first commercial hybrid celery Victoria was introduced in 1991, 10 years later the variety Monterey was launched into the Spanish market and quickly became highly successful there.
In 1969 Dermot’s son; Dr Peter Dawson, joined the company as the plant breeder. The first innovation out of Peter Dawson’s program was highly mildew resistant lettuce Diana.
After the retirement of Mr. Tozer in the 1950s Dr Dermot Dawson and his family took over the company and steady business expansion was to follow. In the 1950s and 1960s world renowned lettuce varieties Cobham Green and Mayfair were introduced and Dermot Dawson devised the world’s first method for mildew resistance screening resulting in the successful variety Mildura.
In 1944 he launched his own company A.L. Tozer Ltd. The business was based in Cobham, Surrey, and successfully began offering improved varieties to the market gardeners in the Thames valley area. Tozer was a proficient vegetable specialist and had already gained awards from the Royal Horticultural Society for a number of reselected varieties.
Soon after, Dr. Dermot Dawson joined the company, after gaining his PhD in plant genetics. He was almost certainly the first scientifically qualified plant breeder in the UK vegetable trade at the time. In the early years of the company, a number of market leading varieties were bred, developed and introduced to suit the post war grower and consumer.
In the mid 1930s the founder of Tozer Seeds, Mr Arthur Tozer, began trading. Tozer was a knowledgeable horticulturalist and published his first seed catalogue in 1939.