Two veterans of the confectionery market have joined forces to create their own sweet success story in the heart of the Black Country.

John Wilkinson and Brian Jay have pooled their different skills and experience to launch Lye-based JJ's Confectionery, a specialist in the production and supply of hand-made boiled sweets.

The new business venture, which was set up in just three weeks, means the firm is now supplying more than 50 shops across the West Midlands and producing in excess of 50,000 units every week.

Mr Wilkinson, who was spurred into action after losing his job in December 2006, said: "We both have significant experience of the sector, with my background being in manufacturing and Brian responsible for van sales and two shops he owns with his wife Jean.

"Whilst I was searching for a new job we got talking and agreed that it if he could provide the building, I would source the necessary plant and we'd have a go at starting our own company."

He went on: "We both went away with our projects in hand and, within three weeks, we were planning to move into the 2,232 sq ft site in Lye."

Securing the right production line was slightly more complicated, with equipment sourced and refurbished from all parts of the UK.

Armed with a 15-strong range and just one solitary customer, the company started life in mid June and has used the following seven months and a £60,000 investment drive to build up a reputation for providing traditional, hand-made sweets.

This image has helped JJ's Confectionery differentiate itself in the marketplace and the quality and taste of its products has seen it become a supplier to more than 50 stores in the Black Country, Shropshire and South Staffordshire.

Mr Jay continued: "We should turn over £70,000 by the end of our first year and this is a fantastic platform to build on.

"Our production line is very efficient and our creative streak has meant that we are already developing new sweets. For example, we now have over 46 lines in our range, including JJ's home-made herbals, pineapple and cola bricks and some of the finest tasting apple sours currently available.

"The latest development is a secret 'slush' flavour which has the potential to be absolutely huge."

A website ( has been launched.

In addition to providing an online story of how the company started and what it does, it is also intended to provide an e-commerce facility for people wishing to buy over the internet.

"My wife Jean runs the Sweet Jars in King-swinford and Stourbridge, two shops that have a large local customer base," added Mr Jay.

"This is an important area of the business and, with the line of supply now running extremely well, we are looking at increasing the portfolio of outlets to six within the next twelve months.

"Traditional sweet manufacturing is a real skill and I am delighted we are continuing the Black Country's strong history in this sector."