A chocolatier who set up his own business when he was just 12 to become one of Britain’s youngest entrepreneurs has started to export after winning business in the US.
Louis Barnett, now aged 19, is the founder of Midland firm Chokolit, which makes high quality chocolate for specialist food shops, delicatessens and other retail outlets. The family-run business has five employees, including his parents, Phil and Mary.
A year ago, the company had to reduce its workforce by half as demand dropped in the UK but it is now fighting back with new products – the ethically-produced Biting Back bars, which are free from palm oil and artificial colours.
The company has signed a deal to supply a US distributor with 37,000 bars of chocolate after exhibiting the Biting Back range at the Fancy Fine Food Fair in New York in June with financial support from UKTI and help through a UK Trade and Investment report from the British Embassy in New York.
Mr Barnett said he expected to enjoy a flood of export sales after successfully winning business in the US market.
He has targeted sales across three continents in the short to medium-term
He said: “We contacted about 20 distributors and have now reached an agreement with one and are in discussion with several others. In addition, we benefited from a free return flight from British Airways through a partnership with UKTI and have had excellent advice and support from our local international trade adviser, Maggie Neale.
“By this time next year, I anticipate that about 70 per cent of our sales will be to overseas markets.
“We have just negotiated to send out a pallet load of chocolates to a distributor in New Zealand and are also targeting Spain, Portugal and India.”
UKTI international trade adviser Maggie Neale, based at Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said the Kinver-based company was a good example of how UKTI can support small businesses to achieve exportsuccess.
She added: “Chokolit has an excellent product, which just needed the correct route to market. UKTI was able to provide the necessary information and contacts, and well-earned success soon followed.
“I look forward to working with Chokolit for a long time to come.”