In 1957 the Managing Director of Smith's Delivery Vehicles (supplier of ice cream vans to Lyons) was on a sales trip to the United States and saw the new Mister Softee mobile ice cream operation. Eventually he secured the rights to the Mister Softee ice cream brand in the United Kingdom.
They then reached an agreement with Lyons and a joint venture was formed. The initial outcome was the launch of the first mobile ice cream vehicle at the 1958 Commercial Motor Show, Earls Court. Mister Softee was run as a franchise operation with the first vans operating in the South West London/Kent borders in the Spring of 1959.
With an initial cost of £3,200, a Mister Softee van cost as much as six or seven conventional Lyons Maid vans. However, the cost was progressively reduced and Lyons also began to run their own in-house operation by putting them into their own depots.
Mister Softee went from strength to strength and by 1961 had already established 34 locations in England and one in Wales. With Mister Softee taking off in a big way, Lyons knew they had a winner and decided to take control of the whole business, bringing the whole Mister Softee operation under the umbrella of Glacier Foods Ltd, a Lyons subsidiary.
Mister Softee by now had become a Lyons flagship brand with depots nationwide and franchised operations abroad. By 1968 Mister Softee vans were operating in 15 countries from Belgium to Australia.