Coronavirus small enterprise diary – James Cadbury, Love Cocoa

Love Cocoa is the posh, moral chocolate start-up created by James Cadbury (great-great-great grandson of Cadbury founder John Cadbury).

Based mostly in Dalston, London, Love Cocoa has 5 full-time employees, whereas manufacturing of its handmade chocolate is outsourced to a family-run manufacturing unit based mostly in Stoke.

The model affords luxurious, moral chocolate sustainably sourced from Columbia, palm-oil free with 100 per cent recyclable packaging and compostable inners produced from wooden pulp. Quirky flavours included gin and tonic, avocado and birthday cake.

The model turned down an funding provide from Dragons’ Den in 2018 and has grown 400 per cent since to turn out to be a million-pound model.

Love Cocoa is about to revamp its model and launch a tree-planting undertaking – “One bar = one tree”; for each Love Cocoa product bought, the corporate will plant a tree in partnership with the charity Bushes for the Future, with the purpose of planting over 500,000 timber in northern Cameroon in 2020, serving to cocoa farmers achieve a a lot wanted second supply of earnings whereas combating deforestation and local weather change.

>See additionally: Coronavirus small enterprise diary – Alessandro Savelli, Pasta Evangelists

25th January

We start to suppose that the trail forward is perhaps tough when the bespoke moulds for the newly redesigned bars (what the manufacturing unit makes use of to pour chocolate into to create Love Cocoa chocolate bars) that we ordered from China again in December are delayed. We count on them to reach on the finish of January, however then COVID-19 hits China and forces lockdown and the closure of factories the size and breadth of the nation, we all know that it’s simply not going to occur. I get on the telephone to our manufacturing unit in Stoke to see if there’s the potential of bumping up present manufacturing as we’d began to run inventory down in anticipation of the upcoming redesign.

2nd – 5th February

As COVID-19 spreads to the UK, I attempt to put worries about that, the redesign and the delay of the moulds to the again of my thoughts as I board the aircraft to Cologne, the place we’re about to launch our new look and tree planting initiative on the world’s largest commerce truthful for confectionery and snacks – ISM 2020. The response on the bottom there’s overwhelmingly optimistic. I return with a renewed sense of vitality and function.

28th February

Everybody within the retail business is feeling nervous about what’s to return, we plan as a lot as we are able to, however a lot is out of our fingers.

Despite the scenario, we finish the week with some excellent news that our new Easter eggs have bought out on each Ocado and on our web site. Regardless that no one actually feels within the temper to have fun, we begin to quantity crunch for subsequent Easter, including further portions and researching extending the vary.

7th – 8th March

Panic shopping for hits the UK with meals rationing begins at a few of the supermarkets for important objects as individuals see the scenario worsen each within the UK and throughout Europe. We start to be inundated with on-line orders. Our warehouse in Milton Keynes is working round the clock to kind orders and managing very well however we’ve got to increase traditional supply turnaround timings as courier demand is a lot larger than traditional.

16th March

We brainstorm concepts round what clients are searching for proper now and determine to introduce 8 x new care hampers starting from massive household ones to smaller letterbox pleasant choices, which utterly keep away from human contact.

20th – twenty second March

I obtain essentially the most weird name of my life. It’s Friday afternoon and my cellular rings with an unknown quantity. I choose as much as discover it’s Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. She chats about how a lot she loves our merchandise and whether or not we’d be serious about partnering as much as donate candy treats to NHS employees in London. We’d been pondering of what we may do to assist in any case, so this looks as if good timing and we shortly determine to affix forces that very weekend, staying within the workplace till late on Friday night to launch on the web site and on social. For each product we promote, we donate one other product to an NHS employee, offering a welcome pick-me-up after a protracted work shift. The marketing campaign is a big success and never solely can we donate over 2,000 chocolate bars, our involvement additionally acts as a catalyst for different manufacturers to return on board, leading to over half 1,000,000 donations for NHS employees to this point.

23rd March

From the excessive of the weekend’s marketing campaign right down to a low… scorching on the heels of colleges closing, we study at present that non-essential retailers are being informed to close with lockdown being introduced. Eighty per cent of our retail enterprise (through unbiased retailers) goes in a single day and I’m left reeling. Our saving grace is that we’ve got at all times bought direct-to-consumer through our web site and on-line gross sales proceed to rocket with customers seeking to deal with themselves (and family members) with high quality chocolate.

All of us begin to make money working from home, which is comparatively simple to handle if you’re a close-knit group of 5. We depend on Google to communicate, utilizing its chat and assembly capabilities and communicate each day, attempting to simply get on with what must be carried out.

31st March

We’ve simply seemed on the figures and on-line gross sales have gone via the roof – up 3,000 per cent versus the identical time final yr. This compensates considerably (however not utterly) for the retail enterprise misplaced.

‘What may presumably occur subsequent, I’m wondering’

1st April

I obtain the decision I’ve been dreading… the manufacturing unit we use in Stoke is shutting its doorways attributable to COVID-19. Added to that, we nonetheless have the continuing saga of the chocolate moulds from China – they’ve shipped however are actually caught up in storms out at sea – you couldn’t make it up. This retains pushing again the redesign launch timings. We’ve solely received a few weeks of inventory left and a variety of our product traces are already utterly bought out. What may presumably occur subsequent, I’m wondering.

4th April

Past excited to listen to the primary tree has been planted as a part of our pledge to plant 500,000 timber in partnership with the charity, Bushes for the Future. The tree has been planted in Cameroon’s Western Province by farmer Sop and technician Alain. We’re planting quite a lot of timber together with mango and lemon, all geared toward serving to the atmosphere, but in addition giving households the power to transition from unsustainable farming methods.

15th April

Simply because it seems to be like we’re going to should shut our on-line retailer down attributable to inventory points, I obtain the excellent news that the manufacturing unit plans to reopen at 10 per cent workforce to make chocolate for us. And never solely that, our cargo of chocolate moulds turns up from China enabling us to lastly launch the brand new formed bars.

28th Could

Despite the hotter climate, which normally equals a downward flip in gross sales, we buck the pattern and triple our chocolate subscribers, whereas our newly launched chocolate hampers are performing brilliantly. Because the COVID-19 curve flattens, we find yourself having a file Could when it comes to on-line gross sales. The redesigned bars are performing properly on our web site with gross sales conversion charges larger than traditional. And though we’ve got a little bit of a mish-mash of inventory obtainable on-line (new bars and previous bars alongside one another), we’re starting to really feel a bit of extra assured concerning the future.


We apply for a CBIL (Coronavirus Enterprise Interruption Mortgage) through HSBC and are amazed by the short turnaround. Inside two weeks, we’ve obtained £245,000 to assist see the enterprise via.

The manufacturing unit in Stoke is now working at 75 per cent capability, which is sweet information as we’re nonetheless seeing on-line gross sales up 500 per cent yr on yr.

Retailers slowly start to position orders once more in anticipation of outlets opening on the 15th June, from bigger shops like Harrods via to the likes of Eat 17 and Bayley & Sage in addition to smaller outfits. It looks like some form of normality is being restored and lengthy could it proceed.

Additional studying

Coronavirus small enterprise diary – Sew & Story CEO Jennifer Lam

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