A long standing love affair

The seemingly ever increasing love affair with or passion for chocolate dates back centuries and takes many forms. Today, the industry is dominated by large companies, such as Mars, Kraft and Nestlé yet supports a range of more specialist chocolate confectioners, such as Green & Black’s, now owned by Kraft (www.greenandblacks.com), Thorntons (www.thorntons.co.uk) and Hotel Chocolat (www.hotelchocolat.co.uk).

In such a well established and crowded market it might seem difficult to create a new way of exploiting our passion for chocolate. Hotel Chocolat (formally ChocExpress) was founded by in 1993 as a catalogue-based company in the UK. The company provides an excellent example of creativity for business idea generation (the tasting club), opportunity recognition (used to support its existing catalogue-based sales) and exploitation in an enterprise (developing a complimentary brand and new income stream within the main business operation). But what was the big innovation? Yes mail order was new but to achieve this the packaging had to redeveloped to fit through the average letterbox and arrive safe and sound on the doormat!

Is there no end to the courting? Last year’s £11bn acquisition of Cadburys by Kraft would suggest not (http://bit.ly/dSMBM0).

I wonder which existing UK-based company will emerge to take on the mantel of Rowntrees or Cadburys? Thorntons, Hotel Chocolate or even Helen and Simon Pattinson’s Montezuma (www.montezumas.co.uk)  founded in 2010.

But remember it’s our passion for chocolate that is fueling this competition!

Prof Nigel Lockett FRSA

Professor of Enterprise
President of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship