Global crunch time as Whitakers Chocolates starts export drive with help from Chamber International

24 July 2018


ONE of the UK’s best-known confectioners, which supplies ten million chocolates a week to retailers, restaurants, hotels, cruise ships and garden centres around the world, is working with overseas trade specialist, Chamber International, to increase its exports.

Family business, Whitakers Chocolates, Skipton, founded by John and Rebecca Whitaker in a grocery shop in a nearby village in 1889, has been exporting for 40 years but is now developing new products and formats to boost sales in the UK and overseas.

Whitakers Chocolates, the UK’s largest distributor of personalised chocolates, including boxes and bars, supplies household-name organisations including P&O Ferries, Hilton Hotels and the Millennium Paris Hotel. About 20 per cent of the company’s output is sold branded and the remainder under private label including to many well known UK supermarkets.

The privately-owned business, led by the fourth generation of the family, managing director, William Whitaker, has around 150 staff, adjusted seasonally, and an £11.5m annual turnover with around six per cent coming from overseas sales.

Sales manager, Ian Webster (pictured below), who was appointed to the newly-created role last year as part of an investment strategy to increase sales, says: “We are already in a strong position with a great reputation for quality and recognised as one of the UK’s most successful chocolate brands. We know that we can build on this. 

Whitakers Chocolates starts export drive with help from Chamber International

“We have a relatively new exporting team and to help develop it are working with Chamber International by attending its very useful exporting training courses, which will continue, and by gaining helpful guidance as part of our export strategy.

“We are starting by realising our untapped potential in markets where we already have a presence by creating more contacts through trade fairs, exhibitions and developing the right overseas partners. To this end, we are exhibiting at ISM, Cologne, France, the world’s biggest trade fair for sweets and snacks in January 2019.

“As a 130-year-old company, we have not set ourselves precise sales targets or deadlines. We believe our reputation for high quality and versatility will enable us to achieve our objectives, by developing more outlets and sales volumes in existing markets and then looking at new territories as chocolate has a universal global appeal.”

Whitakers Chocolates, which makes milk and dark chocolates, 80 per cent of which are foiled wrapped, also has a catering range. The business, which created one of the first chocolate mint wafers 40 years ago, currently exports to Austria, Barbados, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Spain and Sweden.

Chamber International director, Tim Bailey says: “As high-quality chocolates have a universal appeal, and Whitakers Chocolates already has a great reputation overseas, many barriers to export success are removed and we look forward to continuing to advise the company as it realises its overseas potential.”

Chamber International helps hundreds of new and experienced exporters throughout the UK with a wide range of specialist services to make exporting easier and more cost effective.


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