Biting into new chocolate bar product development


About the business

Matt Legon set up Gnaw Chocolate in 2010, driven by a combination of his love for chocolate and his identification of a gap in the market. He saw that traditional manufacturers were not delivering what he believed should be at the heart of chocolate – and that’s fun! Inspired by Green & Blacks, he built a factory in Norwich. He had no customers but was convinced that there was a market out there for an innovative, thought-provoking and fun range of chocolate bars where even the packaging should put a smile on the customer’s face! The early years of trading were good and Matt grew the workforce to around 25 as his operation flourished both nationally and internationally.

The issue that Gnaw Chocolate faced

Gnaw’s French distributors asked the company to develop a range of mini bars for the ‘impulse buy’ market but with a healthier chocolate bar option. Three new bars had been hugely successful and to meet the demand, Matt was going to have to invest in a new wrapping machine. With a turnover of £1.3m in 2017 and ambitions to grow that to £3.5m in 2018, this appeared to be a perfect situation. But to achieve this significant step-change in production, Matt recognised that he would have to use finance to buy the new equipment to cope with the projected demand.

What made the business turn to the Growth Hub?

Matt had known about the Growth Hub from networking and got in touch once he realised the size of the financial commitment needed for the new equipment.

How the Growth Hub helped

Business Adviser, David Sparkes, suggested that grant funding would help Matt to fast-track production and distribution of the new mini bar range, and Matt applied for 20% part funding from the Small Grants Scheme. This was exactly what the company’s situation required and, ultimately, helped achieve the desired success. In recognition, Gnaw Chocolate won a regional British Chamber of Commerce award.

What impact did this have on helping the business expand?

Matt stated, “I have been able to scale-up my production line quickly and it has freed up my resources to focus on developing our international strategy, rather than having to search around for finance. Undoubtedly, this has enabled us to act nimbly and take advantage of this great opportunity. Speedy new product development is a critical success factor in our industry and the Growth Hub’s support has certainly enabled us to proceed quickly with our plans.”

The Business Adviser’s view

David Sparkes commented, “Gnaw is a great Norfolk success story and Matt’s situation is one that is fascinating in that his challenges were all about managing super-fast growth effectively so that he didn’t overstretch the business’s resources – human, financial and mechanical. After our initial conversation, I helped him to submit a Small Grant Scheme application. I am delighted that we have been able to help one of Norfolk’s star companies to grow and prosper. It’s exactly the type of situation that the Growth Hub was set up to support.”

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