Sales rise for Fakenham chocolate manufacturer

The parent company of Fakenham-based chocolate manufacturer Kinnerton has said sales in the past six months rose more than 5pc.

Zetar, the AIM listed confectionery and snack foods group, said the period to the end of October had been in line with management expectations and ahead of last year.

Group sales for the period increased by 5.4pc to �60.2m, from �57.1m last year.

Zetar said its confectionery division had traded strongly, due principally to the increasing importance of everyday sales, but also because of some good Christmas orders.

However, its natural snacks division had to contend with increasing raw material costs which, despite customer price increases, had impacted margins in the period. Margin recovery was expected in the second half of the year.

Kinnerton makes advent calendars and Easter eggs, and accounts for just over 50pc of the group's turnover.

It produces 25 million Easter eggs per year – making it the fourth largest Easter egg manufacturer below Mars, Nestle and Cadbury.

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Kinnerton was the first company bought by Zetar when it was founded five years ago and it remains the largest firm in the group. It also produces own brand chocolate for Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Sainsbury's.

It employs between 600 and 1,000 people depending on the season.

Earlier this year the firm said it had agreed a new finance deal with HSBC giving it access to �45m of cash for working capital.

The group recorded sales of �132m in its last set of filed accounts and analysts predict it to reach �140m in the coming year.