Premium chocolate start-up secures investment only to walk away from deal afterwards.
Love Cocoa, a premium chocolate start-up developed by James Cadbury (the great-great-great grandson of the original Mr John Cadbury) went head-to-head with BBC’s Dragons’ Den investors on Sunday night, securing two offers from Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani before accepting the latter’s deal.
Love Cocoa was set up by Cadbury in 2016 after he left his job as a city trader to pursue his business dream, following in his family’s footsteps. His luxury handmade chocolate brand reinvents British favourites with contemporary twists, (think Gin & Tonic, Earl Grey and English Mint) delivered through your letterbox the very next day.
Cadbury was in the den asking the Dragons for £75k for a 5% share of the business. The money was to be invested in two key areas of the business: developing new products including those using online personalisation, and expanding the Love Cocoa team.
The deal with Tej Lalvani saw Cadbury revert to the infamous wall twice to think about his options before finally accepting £75k for a 15% share. However, following a series of lengthy discussions and having met Lalvani several times after the episode was filmed, Cadbury has since decided to go it alone.
Love Cocoa received an unanimously positive response from the Dragons who all praised the quality of the chocolate and the brand’s ethical and sustainable credentials, with 10% of profits go to the Rainforest Foundation. Viewers also saw an open and frank discussion about previous investment in the brand.
Cadbury commented: “It was a tough process that was also incredibly nerve-wracking; I felt the pressure of having to uphold the family name.
“To be invited onto the show was an amazing experience both in terms of the potential investment and exposure, but the final deal was not quite what I wanted. Tej is a great entrepreneur and a true gentleman; he completely understood and we left on good terms.”
Since filming in May 2018, Love Cocoa has seen substantial growth driven by new stockists such as John Lewis coming on board, as well as a focus on exports, which now account for 30% of the business’s revenue. With turnover upwards of £700,000 and the brand due to launch in Paperchase and Ocado in the new year, the future looks bright for the Cadbury heir.
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