An independent panel compared more than 100 finalists overall, in other sectors such as manufacturing, hotel and leisure, technology and retail.
Calling the recognition ‘a fantastic achievement,’ Whitaker’s managing director William Whitaker said, “I am thrilled and so proud of what we have achieved. We run a business built on family values of trust, integrity and loyalty, so there couldn’t be a better accolade for us to share with our team.”
After the finalists were announced in May, Amalia Brightley-Gillott of Family Business Place, which hosts the awards, said Whitaker was "an exceptional example of how family businesses are leading the way, continuing to innovate and thriving in today’s competitive, economically uncertain world.”
Founded by husband and wife John and Rebecca Whitaker, the company has been making chocolates in Skipton, outside of Leeds, since 1889.
Today, its 30k-square-foot production facility churns out upwards of 10m chocolates every week, which make their way to wholesalers, hotels, restaurants, grocers and boutiques in the UK and around the world.
The portfolio ranges from Fairtrade-certified chocolate bars to truffles and fondant creams, as well as wafers and honeycomb crisps. Flavors run the gamut, including classic milk and dark chocolate, plus mint, violet, rose, coffee, orange and lemon.
Whitaker remains one of the only family-owned and operated chocolate companies in the UK, creating both branded and private-label products.
A fellow Skipton food company – Yockenthwaite Farm, a fifth-generation hill-sheep farm known today for its homemade granola – earned bronze.
Both businesses joined other competitors at Wembley for the awards ceremony in July.