NORTHUMBERLAND confectionery manufacturer Sweetdreams Ltd., the company behind nostalgic chocolate brand Choc Nibbles, has secured contracts with two major national retailers, bringing the product to the high street for the first time.
Following a £100,000 investment in the Sweetdreams factory earlier this year, including the installation of new equipment, Choc Nibbles is now being sold in B&M Stores and branches of Iceland across the UK, as well as a selected number of Poundland and Poundworld stores.
Initial forecasts for 2016 estimated that the investment, which included a £30,000 grant from Arch Northumberland’s Business Growth Programme, would result in around 120,000 bags of Choc Nibbles being produced in the first year, thanks to the installation of a new bagging line.
However, this total was achieved in under six weeks, with the business now producing 75,000 bags per month – a figure which is expected to grow as new contracts are won. With a 34% growth in sales this year alone, the brand’s expansion into the discount retail sector is now firmly underway.
Established in 1985, the family-run Cramlington-based business has had managing director Matthew Stephenson at the helm since he bought the business in 2007, alongside his wife Cathy.
Matthew said: “Choc Nibbles have traditionally only been sold on a wholesale basis, meaning the product’s reach was very limited.
“Our new packaging equipment has allowed us to reach out into new markets and build some great partnerships with some of the UK’s leading discount retailers, meaning Choc Nibbles is now available in high streets up and down the country.
“Choc Nibbles is a nostalgic brand and we have a very loyal group of existing customers who have grown up with the sweets, but we hope this move will introduce a whole new generation to Choc Nibbles, as well as allowing our existing fans to find the product more easily.”
Following the growth in the business this year, plans are now in place to either expand Sweetdreams’ existing factory or move to a larger site in 2017.
Matthew added: “The last year has been phenomenal for us in terms of growth and we are now at the stage where we need extra space if we’re going to continue that. The next 12 months is going to be an exciting time for the business and we hope to build on what we have achieved in 2016 and expand the brand even further.”
Following a successful year, Choc Nibbles has now been shortlisted in the Food and Drink category of the Insider Made in the North East Awards, recognising the most successful and innovative manufacturing companies within the region, with the winners announced on 1 December.