Hames Chocolates likes to describe itself as “one of the biggest British chocolate companies you have never heard of”. The Lincolnshire firm supplies many well-known businesses and high street brands with chocolate and chocolates for all occasions - from Christmas to Easter, Mother’s Day to Valentine’s - as well as for events, gifting and general retail.
Managing director Carol Oldbury said: “I am willing to bet that you will have enjoyed something we have made – be that an Easter Egg, a chocolate on your hotel pillow, a chocolate gift, or an after-dinner treat in your favourite restaurant.”
At the beginning of the year, the company launched its first Great British Chocolate range and after a successful ISM show in Cologne in February, it was gearing up for a busy year – and then the coronavirus pandemic struck.
In our latest Creative Conversations podcast, we chat to Oldbury about the company and the effect of COVID-19 on its operations.
She told ConfectioneryNews the impact of the pandemic was felt almost overnight.
'A new normal'
“I would say approximately 98% of our customers closed or buyers were furloughed. However, after a short three-week period when the factory closed down, we're back now in full capacity and only a couple of our own staff are still on furlough and we’re now working to a ‘new normal’ and ticking over quite nicely.”
She said that although parts of the business where Hames has customers across the leisure and retail sectors, including high footfall tourism attractions, leisure centres, holiday parks, as well as specialist chocolate shops, chocolate makers, garden centres and department stores, have been hit, those with a strong online presence have done quite well.
Hames' products for the B2B sector include truffles, filled chocolates, chocolate bars, chocolate Neapolitans, Easter eggs, private label chocolates, bespoke chocolates, moulded chocolates, hollow chocolate figures and chocolate boxes.
Oldbury said the company had recently invested in state-of-the-art technology, and a new website will also help it offer an even more bespoke service for its customers, making it well-placed to come out of the shutdown stronger once, a semblance of normality returns to the confectionery industry.
- Listen to the full interview with Oldbury above. Please contact CN editor Anthony Myers to put yourself or a colleague forward as a guest on Creative Conversations.