“When I got into the market, the only chocolate on offer in the UK was old-fashioned and fussy,” says Coyle. “I aimed Kshocolat at an ultra-premium market, which was a demographic that Nestle and Cadbury didn’t compete for. Now, that’s changing.”
These days, there are more than 500 chocolate companies in the UK. “We cope because we look very different and have an unexpected range of flavours,” says Coyle.
Kshocolat also competes on price. While its immediate rivals price their bars at around £2.50, Coyle aims for a bracket below, between £1.49-£1.69, in line with mid-range options like Green & Black and Lindt.
But the key point of difference really is the unusual options on offer. From chilli almonds (Boy! Do these have a kick!) and kirsch cherry to white chocolate with lemon and pepper and (Coyle’s personal favourite) dark chocolate with orange and cardamom, these aren’t your newsagent stalwarts.
Research and innovation is a massive part of the business. Kshocolat will be launching 16 new products this year, including a daring square chocolate egg for Easter. “We’re so bored of eggy eggs,” says Coyle.
The “weird and wonderful” angle is important to the firm: Kshocolat targets the gift market in particular. It’s a successful niche. The firm turned over £1.2m last year, selling into 22 different markets around the world. This year, Coyle expects the firm to turn over £4m.