Name: Brian Watt
Job title: Owner
Company: Sloane's Hot Chocolate
Twitter url: @sloaneshotchoc
Linkedin url: brianwattuk
Tell us about your job/company/role?
My company makes ‘posh hot chocolate’. Why is it posh? Well it is named after Sir Hans Sloane who gave his name to Sloane's Square and who Sloane Rangers were named after. Also, we put more cocoa in our chocolate pearls so when you melt them with milk you get a real chocolate taste. My role as owner covers the full spectrum which can be meeting key customers, talking to investors, helping on the packing line or campaigning for small businesses at No 10.
What drew you to working in the confectionery industry? (Apart from the free chocolate!)
Once you have seen the magic of a cocoa pod on the tree in the plantation you cannot help falling in love with chocolate. From the cocoa pod to chocolate is a long road but the variety of different tastes you can conjure up with different chocolates lets you see the world of possibilities in the chocolate world. We play around creating different recipes for hot chocolate from our Cocoa Intense 77%, to our Luxury Blend 44% which we created with the help of the baristas at Rothschild Waddesdon Manor for their Winter Market.
What do you love most about your job?
The world of possibilities. We created three new recipes this year for the seasonal market; Pumpkin Spice, Winter Blend and Dark with Turmeric and a USA customer launched them nationally across America (kept us busy from July onwards).
What do you dislike most about your job?
When we let a customer or consumer down for whatever reason.
What is your biggest creative achievement so far?
Instead of a spoon with chocolate we developed a hot chocolate cocoa pod with our chocolate pearls inside. Our coffee shops love them as they let consumers pour over the hot milk themselves watching the chocolate cocoa pod float to the top of the cup and then start to melt. A great piece of theatre.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Running a even bigger Sloane's and travelling the world to get people to drink real hot chocolate.
Describe a typical work day.
Like most people in chocolate there is a typical day January to June then a typical day July to December. For me both start around 6am when I take the dog down the park then a quick session in the gym. For Jan to June I am in work around 8.30am and work through to 6pm for July to December it can be up at 6am and in for 7am and through to 7pm or 8pm. Being a small business we only have one meeting a week so the rest of the time is either putting fires out, visiting coffee shops/stores or working on some new recipes.
What do you do enjoy doing outside of work?
I play football every Tuesday night and golf at the weekend. Having lived abroad I really appreciate how great living in UK is in terms of things like the theatre, we go once a month to see plays at small and large venues. I last saw The Cane at the Royal Court - great actors telling a great story that made you think.
What do you think will be the next big thing in the confectionery world?
Can we have a chocolate with low sugar that does not have an after taste?
Apple or Android?
What is your favourite book or podcast?
Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I have reread this many times as it is a great story with a lot of interesting insights
Where do you stand on social media – can't live without it, or an evil necessity?
Like a lot of things it is great - but never let it become your master.
If you could change one thing in the confectionery industry, what would it be?
Let's be more transparent.
What's the biggest misconception about working in confectionery?
That we sit around eating or drinking chocolate all day.
What advice would you give to other people looking to get into the confectionery industry?
I have worked in dog food, baby shampoo, confectionery, cheese and coffee, which were all great fun and I met a lot of interesting people. However confectionery stands out as, even with globalisation, each country's consumers grew up with their local chocolate taste - be it Cadbury's, Hershey's, Milka, Galaxy and as children they all have a very emotional connection to chocolate as it was often how they were first rewarded. Understanding this and trying to tap into these emotions to develop your brand proposition can be fascinating and very rewarding when you get it right.
To give you an example of this, we were running focus groups of 20-35 year old guys in Hungary on brand called Piros Mygoros (Red Nuts- it was dark chocolate with hazelnuts in a red wrapper) it had been as dull as ditch water for 45 minutes and we were thinking we can delist this range as there was no interest. Then one guy said 'I remember my dad taking be to the local corner shop after football and because I had scored a goal he bought me a bar of Piros Mygoros'. Wow! the floodgates opened and all these guys lit up and started telling their stories of when their dad bought them Piros Mygoros.
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