April 5 - Easter is a traditional boom time for the chocolate industry as shoppers stock up with the eggs. Reuters pays a visit to a boutique chocolate maker whose business is flourishing. Hayley Platt reports.
Chocolate lovers don't usually need an excuse to buy their favourite treat but just in case Easter provides the perfect opportunity. Small family run chocolatiers 'Lick the Spoon' have been busy making up orders in time for the holidays. Professional chef, Diana Short started the business five years ago from her kitchen table. Now she operates from this factory in the English county of Wiltshire, supplying some of London's biggest retailers as well as online customers from around the world. SOUNDBITE: Diana Short, founder and director Lick the Spoon chocolatiers, saying (English): "Easter is absolutely crucial to our business obviously its the one time of year everybody buys a chocolate product and we cannot afford to miss out on a single sale. Easter carries us throught the rest of the year without it we'd never get through to December." Sales of Easter confectionary over the past three years have been little affected by the economic downturn. They've grown steadily year on year. Last year British consumers spent more than £230 million on Easter goodies. SOUNDBITE: Diana Short, founder and director Lick the Spoon chocolatiers, saying (English): "What it is, people might not be able to afford the big luxuries like a new car or an expensive holiday but they kind of figure that they desearve a decent piece of chocolate so it's an affordable luxury, something that everybody can obtain." Diana's chocolates are aimed at the premium market. This giant egg costs a cool £185 pounds and these white chocolate chicks sell for almost £8 each. They're not for everyone and analysts are predicting sales to slow this Easter as cash-strapped shoppers hunt for bargains. SOUNDBITE: Julie, Somerset, England, saying (English:) "I usually buy the ones that are on offer." SOUNDBITE: Julie Webster, Somerset, England, saying (English): "I've been tempted to buy the £1 ones." SOUNDBITE: Jackie, Berkshire, England, saying (English): "I suppose I'd sort of shop around for special offers now if they had them now" Diana seems to have cracked the premium chocolate market. Business has grown at such a rate, husband Matt left his job as a software engineer two years ago to join the firm. The pair are now hatching a plan to expand the business to include chocolate making classes and off the shelf wedding cakes. Hayley Platt, Reuters