Fakenham-based Kinnerton captures sales uplift thanks to nation’s love of chocolate

A tour around the Kinnerton Factory in Fakenham - On the production line. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A tour around the Kinnerton Factory in Fakenham - On the production line. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Fakenham's biggest employer has captured a sales uplift despite a 'difficult trading environment' thanks to the nation's taste for chocolate.

A tour around the Kinnerton Factory in Fakenham - On the production line. Picture: Matthew Usher.

A tour around the Kinnerton Factory in Fakenham - On the production line. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Sales at EDP Top100 firm Kinnerton grew 15.1% to £83.4m for the full year of 2015, up from £72.4m a year earlier.

Pre-tax profits rose 65% from £2.9m to £4.9m for the same period.

It comes as the German-owned company has invested in a new 25,000sq ft factory extension at its Oxborough Lane site to house its packaging facility after closing its South Creake base.

Kinnerton, which moved to Fakenham in 1988, produces between nine and 10 million advent calendars each year, and is best known for obtaining licences to sell chocolate under big entertainment brands such as Disney and Cornetto.

Its luxury chocolate brand Magnum helped increase European exports by 55.5% from £2.8m to £4.4m during 2015, and the value of its contracts with Marks & Spencers - which make up almost 50% of its business - also continued to grow.

In its latest annual results, posted on Companies House, directors said the firm had made progress despite increased pressure on margins from major retailers and increased input costs from suppliers.

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'The company seeks to be innovative in its design and manufacture of new products in order to maintain its market share,' said the report.

It said it was aware of competition from other confectionary manufacturers, but aimed to grow the business further in 2016 despite tough trading conditions and pressures on margins.

Kinnerton was bought by German food business Zertus in 2012 in a deal worth £42.7m, but continues to operate independently.

Products are designed in Fakenham in its development kitchen, and then shown to potential clients.

Once a product has been chosen, the development kitchen team teach factory workers how to produce them on a mass scale.

Employee numbers swell in the run up to Christmas and Easter, but the average number rose from 969 to 1,056 during 2015.

Is your business investing in production? Call business writer Sabah Meddings on 01603 772879 or email sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk