500 MILLION chocolates produced annually

Manchev acknowledges that UK tastes differ from those on the European mainland and the product range here reflects that. Sweeter confections, based on white and milk chocolate, as well as flavoured and filled chocolates, are proving particularly popular. He says: “We have a lot of variety (over 80 lines, excluding seasonal ones) and that’s a natural fit with the British consumer. They want to see constant innovation and new products being developed.”

Some of those new products will reflect a generational shift in attitudes towards food. Manchev says: “Younger people are generally more health-conscious and we’re trying to prepare for that by developing more healthy chocolates with low or less sugar. At the same time, consumers are putting quality above quantity by, for example, choosing a couple of really nice chocolates over a regular chocolate bar.” Gluten-free, Kosher and Halal options are already in the Leonidas offering.

For self-confessed chocoholics Punjwani and Manchev (they both prefer dark varieties), Leonidas is their first foray into retail, following previous careers within their respective family businesses. So far, they are relishing the experience.

Punjwani reflects: “Our previous jobs were much more defined, with less room for innovation. Now we have no formal roles and take on different tasks every day, from dealing with furniture and fit-out installers to meeting coffee machine representatives. We’re building our operation from the ground up”.

The duo suggests that their backgrounds and previous experience will stand them in good stead for developing their business. Punjwani notes: “Leonidas is family-run and we understand those values. We are self-financing which gives us a certain confidence, plus we are in this for the long-term. Our plan is to grow organically so that people in the UK come to see Leonidas as an everyday chocolate. Our objective is to mirror stores that have traded successfully in Belgium and France for decades. We want the UK stores to last for decades to come.”

Thinking outside the chocolate box

6,400 TONNES 15

chocolates per second

of chocolate produced each year (equivalent to the weight of about three London Eyes!)

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