Raising the bar

Raising the bar

Chocolate and Love Ltd was launched back in 2010 to fill a gap in the market for premium organic chocolate. Now the company exports to over 39 countries spanning five continents and is still continuing to grow. BQ caught up with managing director, Richard O’Connor, to hear how the company made it happen...

It was demand for high quality British products that inspired Richard to start the company, and particularly a demand for premium, organic British chocolate. Now Chocolate & Love has been exporting for over three years to countries all over the world.

Chocolate & Love got started on their exporting journey with the help of The Scottish Executive and UKTI, but Richard credits the customers with his company’s growth and expansion. He said: “The easiest part of exporting is our customer base, we are very lucky to have loyal, pleasant customers that have good communication skills.”

The most challenging aspect, however, is dealing with different legislation and documentation for each different country. Richard said: “Language barriers aren’t a problem, we work with distributors that are used dealing with UK suppliers, so they are set up to export on a wider scale. Selecting the right distributors in each individual country has been the key to our success.

“Currency changes can also be an issue, with GBP fluctuating, taking a long term calculated approach so the customers get charged a constant value helps to maintain good customer relationships.”

Despite challenges with exporting Richard has no regrets, and even has some advice for newer companies who are looking to export for the first time. He said: “Look for the right partners, stay focused in the country you are going into and don’t set expectations too high to start with, as it builds slowly.

“Always beware of each country’s legislation, and always understand the shipping costs, temperature and how it will affect your product country by country. Don’t be daunted by export, there is always advise and help if needed!”

Chocolate & Love shows no sign of slowing down any time soon, and is looking to explore more countries to do business in. Richard said: “My aim in the next five years is to become a double digit £million business and to become a global brand recognised as a leader in the organic Fairtrade chocolate category.

“We are now looking at Asia, and starting to work with Japan following success in China. We want to maximise the UK market to meet it's full potential!”

Exporting and international trade remain high on the Scottish Government’s economic growth agenda and the Scottish Export Awards, in association with Scottish Enterprise, are about recognising the excellence in those emerging, wealth creating companies that are selling their products, services and expertise in scores of overseas markets.

To book your ticket for the awards, click here.