Mike Jessop, sales and marketing director of the business, which currently employs 19 people, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We are looking to recruit another eight people in the next six to nine months.”
The Reading-based family business, which makes dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate, said the investment was in response to strong demand for its specialist products from primarily dairy-intolerant consumers.
“We need to at least double production,” said Jessop. He had been startled by the rate at which the company had grown, he said. Having launched at the end of 2010, sales had more than tripled in three years, from £220,000 in 2011 to £687,000 in 2013, he claimed. “This year we’re going to be well ahead of the million mark.”
He said the firm needed more production space than its current 603.9m2 factory, having already outgrown two previous sites. “We have to look at either one more bigger premises or two sites.”
He attributed the growth to identifying a gap in the international market. Including Moo Free there were still only about four main manufacturers of dairy-free chocolate anywhere in the world, he said.
Moo Free, which manufactures products under the Mini Moos and Moo Free brands, has existing contracts with Holland & Barrett, Sainsbury and Waitrose, and exports to Australia, New Zealand and Spain.
Boost global sales
Moo Free said it had joined the Santander Trade Club, which helps connect Santander UK commercial customers with more than five million firms across the world, to boost global sales.
Moo Free was set up by owner Andrea Jessop, a mother whose son could never have a ‘normal’ Easter egg because he was intolerant to dairy ingredients.
Andrea and her husband Mike have invested all their time and money in producing ‘free-from’ chocolate for people with allergies and intolerances.
It now makes all-year round confectionery, as well as seasonal offerings such as Easter eggs and chocolate advent calendars, and also produces organic lines.
“We are delighted to be able to invest in new machinery and increase staff levels, as this is a tangible indication of the fast growth of Moo Free,” Andrea Jessop said. “The business has gone from strength to strength and we are confident that, with the funding provided by Santander, we will be able to reach new markets.”
Michael Burroughs, relationship director, Santander Corporate & Commercial, said: “After identifying an opportunity in the market, Andrea has built up a dynamic business which has enjoyed strong growth and its customer base and international expansion is testament to its success.
“We have enjoyed working with Andrea and the team and we look forward to supporting the future growth of this great business, both in the UK and globally.”
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