Norwich’s Gnaw Chocolate has been named the UK’s Small Business of the Year
- Credit: Archant
It's been a year of growth and success for Gnaw Chocolate, which has won a major national award. Mark Shields caught up with the company founder.
A Future50 chocolatier is savouring the sweet taste of success after being named the best small business in the country.
Gnaw Chocolate won the accolade at the British Chambers' awards on Thursday, beating 750 other businesses to have entered, just weeks after picking up the regional title against competition from Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and other eastern counties.
But after a year of success in 2018, the Norwich-based firm has already set itself ambitious targets for 2019 – and has urged other small companies to overcome the 'fear factor' that stops many of them from selling abroad.
Director Matt Legon, who set up the company with his wife Teri in 2011, said some 80% of the company's anticipated £2.5m turnover this year had come from exports, and that the team was aiming to double in size to £5m next year.
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Much of that growth will come from France, where Gnaw has set up a new division, though it now sells to more than 20 countries. It is already in 1,000 stores but wants to be in 4,000 next year as it looks for sales of £1.5m.
Mr Legon said: 'The UK is becoming more inward-focused, and people like British products.
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'The key to success for Gnaw is due to export. We see a really strong demand and it's really growing.'
He said the urge to export stemmed in part from his own love of travel, and the desire to be an international company.
'The UK market is lovely but it's small and it's very competitive. There's a world out there that has opportunities and we want to be a part of it,' he said.
'I think there's a fear factor with exporting. People think 'Why would we go through all that paperwork?'
'It's not easy, but it's easier than the UK. We have really strong relationships with our partners abroad.'
Gnaw Chocolate was set up as a spin-out from the University of East Anglia, where Mr Legon was a student. It has a factory in Norwich's Hall Road, where it has invested heavily in its production facilities in preparation for the expansion.
In the past year it has signed a seven-figure deal in Russia for its premium brand Brooke and Amble, and also launched a range of healthier snack bars with seeds, fruits and nuts.