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Hancock’s confectionery business expects to reach rural UK with e-commerce

Douglas Yu

By Douglas Yu+

21-Nov-2016
Last updated on 22-Nov-2016 at 12:13 GMT2016-11-22T12:13:04Z

The Hancock brothers' new confectionery wholesale business is almost entirely an online structure. Photo: HS Wholesale Sweets
The Hancock brothers' new confectionery wholesale business is almost entirely an online structure. Photo: HS Wholesale Sweets

Two brothers have launched a new British wholesale confectionery business, called HS Wholesale Sweets, continuing with a family tradition in confectionery. 

David Hancock and Michael Hancock are doing the majority of their business online, with products delivered by courier. This allows the company to 'reach all corners of the UK'. 

Confectionery runs in the family: the duo's grandparents ran a sweet shop in Leicestershire before founding Hancocks Cash & Carry in 1962 (this business was sold in 2012 and David and Michael's new venture is not related to Hancocks Cash & Carry).

Family tradition

For David and Michael, the story starts when Ray and Liz Hancock set up Hancocks Cash & Carry in 1962. Ray and Liz had been running a small sweets shop in Shepshed, Leicestershire, and started to buy wholesale confectionery in bulk soon after realizing that they could get a better price and sell some of it off to other local businesses.  

As space ran out, the first Hancocks Cash & Carry was born.

“My grandfather ran the fast growing Hancocks chain of cash and carries until his death in 1986, at which point my uncle and father took over at the helm. Andrew and Adrian successfully developed the business until its sale in 2012 to H2 Equity, who still own and manage the company today,” joint managing director of HS, David Hancock told ConfectioneryNews.

Both he and his brother Michael worked at their grandparents’ company when they were younger.

“I spent time working in the Loughborough cash and carry in addition to spending some time in the buying office,” David Hancock said.

Target audience

Continuing the family tradition of working in the confectionery industry is the primary reason why Hancock brothers decided to establish their own company. However, HS Wholesale Sweets is not related to their grandparents’ business at all.

So far, HS has been offering a solid range of branded bulk sweets, including Haribo, Swizzels, Walkers Nonsuch, Dobsons and Taveners.

“As the business grows, so too will the range that we offer, but the focus will always remain around wholesale confectionery,” David Hancock said.

“This fits perfectly with our target audience, which includes confectionery retailers, both high street and online; general retailers; event and promotional companies looking to source bulk amounts of confectionery.”

Almost entirely an online structure

HS is much smaller than Hancocks and strives to offer a “friendly and personable” service to its customers, David Hancock mentioned.

In addition to the difference in the size of business, David Hancock added that HS is almost entirely an online structure, aside from a small amount of click and collect, whereas Hancocks has a chain of cash and carries as well.

“The vast majority of our business is done online and delivered by courier. In this way, we can reach all corners of the UK, where confectionery suppliers can often be lacking. This is particularly true for more rural areas such as Norfolk, Cornwall and Wales, which are often tourist spots too and therefore require plenty of confectionery,” he said.

“As a relatively new business, our priority is to build up our presence in the marketplace… Service is key in this market as everyone wants the reassurance that what they order will turn up and that it will be delivered quickly.”

However, David Hancock did acknowledge that developing an e-commerce website took quite some time, and it is not an “easy task” as they thought.

“We’ve also spent time negotiating product ranges with our suppliers and setting up a brand new warehouse and computer system to support the business day to day,” he added.

Retro, sour and bulk candies are trendy in the UK

David Hancock believes that the UK confectionery industry continues to be “very buoyant,” within which the trend for retro sweets is still strong, and that has shaped a key part of HS’ range, such as Pear Drops, Liquorice Allsorts, Rosey Apples and Wine Gums.

In addition, he added, “sour flavors continue to retain a significant fab club, mostly among teenagers and children. We’re stocking many popular choices such as Millions Sour Strawberry to cater for this.”

“Bulk sweets are retailed in many ways today and more businesses are trying to add value by packaging them in attractive bags or containers. This might be for day-to-day treats or to offer a gifting range,” David Hancock said. “Traditional pick and mix however is still at large and in great demand, whether sold from a range of jars or display in a pick and mix stand. Shoppers love to deliberate over the choice and that is certainly part of the fun in pick and mix.”

HS Wholesale Sweets’ minimum order requirement is £50 ($62.07) and delivery is free to most of mainland UK at £350 ($434.48), according to the company.

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