HMS owns a network of ingredient suppliers, including bakery specialist BFP and Garrett Ingredients, a 70-year-old company that focuses on sugars, dairy, fats and emulsifiers.
Founded in 1998, HB is itself one of the largest distributors of chocolate products in the UK, with conventional, organic and Fair Trade options. It even launched a specialized bean-to-bar website filled with resources and, of course, ingredients for chocolate makers and enthusiasts. The company also holds monthly chocolate courses that are open to the public.
Despite the deal, HB will function as a separate entity, under existing management, out of its headquarters in Lewes about 50 miles south of London. Founder and managing director Tony Mycock will retire, which spurred the decision to sell.
“When planning this, the key consideration for us was to make sure the business passed to an owner who would further develop the business whilst preserving the facility and employees here in Lewes,” said Mycock. “So we are handing the baton over to a carefully chosen partner which shares HB Ingredients’ values: flexible, human and customer-focused.”
Previous to starting HB, Mycock worked for the likes of Barry Callebaut and Tate & Lyle, where he saw an opportunity to better service smaller and mid-sized producers. At the time, he believed major suppliers had less incentive to support those businesses with competitive prices.
HMS chairman Iain Dalglish said he was impressed by the quality, service and value HB offered to him as a customer.
“This is a successful, well-run business, so HMS will be taking a hands-off approach, with the existing management team given the freedom to operate the business as it always has been,” he added. “I know they have exciting plans for the future…that will build an even better customer experience and stronger platform for partner brands.”
He vowed that HMS would support these endeavors with ‘considerable resources.’
Last October, Guittard selected HB Ingredients as its UK supplier, applauding its relationships with bakers, pâtissiers and chocolatiers.