Wednesday 4 March 2015

Its exquisite handmade chocolates have been a hit with well-heeled customers shopping at Harrods and other fine food halls and department stores for more than a quarter of a century.

But after a significant increase in turnover, family-run Holdsworth Chocolates has expanded to create a larger manufacturing and office facility in the heart of the Derbyshire Dales.

This expansion was made possible with a grant from the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership’s Regional Growth Fund (RGF) of almost £25,000.

This formed a crucial part of a £123,000 investment in fitting out new premises at Deepdale Business Park, Bakewell, and purchasing new machinery.

Seven new jobs have also been created as a result of the company’s expansion.

David Sharples, Managing Director of Holdsworth Chocolates, said: “Prior to this project taking place, production was running at capacity.

“Holdsworth Chocolates was experiencing good levels of growth but there was a need to relocate to larger premises in order to meet production demand and retain and grow our customer base.

“It was also vital that we relocated locally, within Bakewell, to ensure that our existing local employees could be retained; and for us to have the opportunity to recruit more skilled team members from the surrounding area in future.

“Without the RGF we would not have been able to raise sufficient finance to carry out the project within the desired timescales.

“This in turn would have jeopardised our ability to service current customer demand and create the almost immediate growth we needed to meet demand from new areas.

“It’s great news that, thanks to this RGF funding, we have been able to drive our business forward  and sell our delicious chocolates to thousands of new customers.”

The firm was established in Bakewell in 1988 by Barbara Holdsworth, who, driven by a passion for chocolate and the firm belief that a market existed for premium handcrafted chocolates, began to blend the best possible ingredients from around the world to realise her dream.

Made to her unique recipes and exacting standards, the result was a range of exquisite, world-class chocolates that quickly acquired an enviable reputation. Holdsworth Chocolates was born.

After working in the business almost from its inception, Barbara’s daughter Genevieve took up the reins in 2002 and has helped to guide the company to its present position as one of the UK’s fastest-growing premium chocolate brands.

She said: “We operate in a very exciting and fun industry, but competition is tough and standards are high. The RGF funding that we received couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Among many other things it’s enabled us to achieve a coveted SALSA accreditation for operational safety and hygiene – something we would have found near impossible at our old site and which is quickly becoming a benchmark standard for customer partners.

“The room to grow is already paying massive dividends in terms of production capacity and we look forward to contributing more and more to the local economy as we continue to expand here at Holdsworth Chocolates.”

Leader of Derbyshire Dales District Council, Councillor Lewis Rose OBE, said: “It has been a pleasure to help this local business and others in the Dales not only by pointing them to RGF funding but also, through our free business advice service, assisting in the application process.

“The paperwork involved in putting together a bid can often put off would-be applicants, but we are committed to helping local businesses that are working hard to expand because they truly are the lifeblood of the Derbyshire Dales.”

To find out more about Holdsworth Chocolates, visit the website at www.holdsworthchocolates.co.uk

The RGF grant funding has come from the LEP’s Unlocking Business Investment programme, which has seen £32m in central Government funding allocated to the city region.

Last autumn, it was announced that the Sheffield City Region had secured a £320m Growth Deal from the Government, which will create more than 28,000 jobs and training for 40,000 people.

This was the fifth-largest sum to be secured of the 39 LEPs within the country. As part of the Sheffield City Region Growth Deal, the LEP secured a further funding from Government which will be used to support businesses to invest and grow.

For more information about Sheffield City Region LEP visit www.sheffieldcityregion.org.uk

  • Business benefiting from the grants are within the Sheffield City Region and paying business rates to Barnsley, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derbyshire Dales, Doncaster, North East Derbyshire, Rotherham or Sheffield councils.
  • Grant funded companies are all independent businesses which have been established for more than 12 months and employ fewer than 250 staff.
  • A clear case for the grant funding had to be demonstrated, with businesses being asked to prove that their project would not go ahead in the City Region, either as quickly or at the same scale, without grant support.
  • For further information visit www.sheffieldcityregion.org.uk/rgf