‘We can’t keep up’ - Norwich chocolatier Gnaw sees exports soar

09:35 16 March 2016

Gnaw Chocolate owner Matt Legon.

Gnaw Chocolate owner Matt Legon. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2016

Handmade chocolatier Gnaw has set itself the target of supplying 40 overseas markets, as consumers around the world acquire a sweet tooth for British confectionery.

Key to success in food and drink

Invention and evolution are the key to success in the growing food and drink sector, said Mr Legon.

“If you aren’t doing that, then you are stagnating - and that’s when you get caught up.”

Gnaw is working on a deal to supply university campus coffee shops across the country, building on a successful UEA arrangement.

The company last year launched nine new products, and is continually working on more. It has already seen success with the introduction of its miniature bars, designed for the impulse market, while its hot chocolate shots sold more than 250,000 units in Scandinavia alone last year.

The five-year-old company has struck deals with distributors across the world which meant that last year half of the 1.2m products made at its 70,000 sq ft factory in Hall Road, Norwich, were bound for abroad.

And while the Future50 firm is already selling in 25 markets around the world, it has set itself a goal of adding a further 15, having signed deals to sell in China, the Middle East and Scandinavia, with exports expected to rise to 60pc this year.

“The plan was to build the company in the UK, but exports have just taken over for us,” said director Matt Legon.

“At the moment we can’t keep up with the level of interest we are getting,” he said.

Gnaw has taken on two new chocolatiers, adding four new staff to its workforce of 22 in the past year, and last year invested more than £50,000 in its packing line.

Mr Legon puts the brand’s success down to its “light-hearted and quirky” take on the premium chocolate market, which he said rivals had sought to imitate.

The company turned over around £800,000 in 2015-16, and is expecting that to rise to £1.1m this year, maintaining what Mr Legon called “double-digit” net profit margins.

Gnaw already sells in 425 supermarkets in the Netherlands, 226 premium stores in Japan and a chain of 54 shops in the Philippines, said Mr Legon.

And the firm believes a significant part of its success is down to the Union Jack that can be found on each product.

“Britain has a great reputation for quality produce. Maybe it’s the heritage factor, but there’s so much interest in British confectionery,” he said.

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