Fakenham firm drives growth at confectionery group

National confectionery firm Zetar has seen turnover climb during the last year thanks to strong sales of products from its Fakenham-based chocolate factory.

The London firm has released its trading statement for the year ending April 30, which shows total turnover of �135m, up 2.2pc on last year.

The business is split into a confectionary arm, which accounts for two thirds of turnover and is 80pc composed of Fakenham firm Kinnerton, and a natural snacks division.

The growth over the last year came from a strong 4pc boost on the previous 12 months in confectionary sales, while the natural snacks division's sales remained constant at �49m.

The firm said the natural snacks division has suffered from a 'difficult trading period' due to rising prices for fruit and nuts, but had picked up in the second half of the year.

Kinnerton was largely unaffected as its main raw material, cocoa, had remained stable in price.

It produces its own branded products as well as licensed confectionery for brands such as Top Gear, Hello Kitty and the Simpsons.

Most Read

During the last 12 months the amount of licensed work fell and the company focused on its own brands which saw a 10pc boost in sales, which also brought higher profit margins.

Finance director Mark Stott said: 'Turnover has grown by 4pc, but profit will have increase by more'.

Kinnerton had also escaped the downturn in chocolate sales on the high street reported by firms such as Thorntons caused by extremely hot weather over Easter, as most of its products are sold to supermarkets.

'We're pleased, the confec-tionery business has had a good year,' he said. 'The site at Fakenham has been an integral part of that good news story.'

The number of staff at the site varies depending on the time of year, fluctuating from 600 to around 1,000.

But Mr Stott said this was unlikely to grow despite good performance because of a lack of space on the site for expansion.

The firm will soon begin production of advent calendars which will go into storage until the end of the year.

Last Christmas the firm made and sold more than 10.3m calendars, increasing its market share to 39.4pc, and it also produces more than 20m Easter eggs annually, making it the nation's fourth largest manufacturer.

Zetar announced last month that it had bought Derby-based chocolate manufacturer Derwent Lynton, which joined its confectionery division with Kinnerton.