June 17, 2008

Sweet Taste of Success for Kshocolt Grows

By Jane Bradley

A COMPANY which produces luxury chocolate has secured a GBP 1 million investment package which it expects will treble the size of its operations by the end of the year.

Kshocolt, which sells its products in 6,000 stores worldwide, aims to grow retail sales by 300 per cent to GBP 4 million in 2008 at the same time as it moves into a new warehouse and office facility ten times the size of its current premises.

The funding facility for the Glasgow-headquartered company has been provided by a mix of private and corporate investors including Scottish Enterprise and the Bank of Scotland.

It will also be used massively to boost marketing spend by the firm, increasing it from GBP 40,000 in 2007 to nearly GBP 500,000 this year.

Chief executive Simon Coyle, who set up the company five years ago, said the firm was to focus on growing its range available in supermarkets such as Sainsbury's and Waitrose - where it has recently expanded its reach to include "self treating" products as well as gifts. The products on offer include unusual combinations such as chocolate, chilli and almond and white chocolate with lemon and pepper.

Coyle said: "A large proportion of our sales are for gifts, but in the supermarkets especially, we have launched ranges that appeal to people wanting to treat themselves, such as more ordinary chocolate bars.

"We are continuing to do a lot more deals with the supermarkets in the UK and develop new products with them."

He added: "I think the thing about the brand which is appealing to people is that it is a bit different. We have unusual and unexpected combinations of flavours which are quite unique."

The company recently brokered a deal to supply all in-flight chocolate on British Airways' European business class flights, as well as a major new contract with homeware store Pier One in the US. It also has contracts with stores including Liberty and John Lewis.

Coyle, an accountant who previously worked at drinks firm Diageo, before spotting a " gap in the market" for a new luxury chocolate brand, said: "The British Airways deal is not going to pay the bills, but it is a great way of getting our brand out there."

He added: "This is an incredibly exciting time for Kshocolt. We're delighted to see that there is such a high level of confidence in the brand, our future vision for the business, and in the people who make it all happen."

Coyle said the brand's first catalogue would be published this year, while Kshocolt would also unveil a new website, in a bid to boost direct sales.

The new headquarters, near Braehead, will increase the company's office and warehouse facilities ten-fold - boasting a total of 25,000sq ft of space.

Originally published by Jane Bradley Business Reporter.

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