Two SME chocolate manufacturers talk about coping with Christmas

We talked to Viva Peru and Sweet Virtues about their preparations for Christmas. 

Carey Davis-Munro founded Sweet Virtues, a health-conscious food retailer  

How important is the Christmas season to your business and what kind of increase in sales do you experience?

Well we only launched two months ago so this year will be hard to get a realistic take on this but there are obviously spikes in the calendar for chocolate and gifting of which Christmas is the most significant along with Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day

Do you use promotions or any other tactics to increase sales during this period?

We don’t have the margins on our products to offer discounts. We also believe the whole ethos is not in line with the integrity of our product and devalues it in some way. We use exceptional ingredients which are costly and nutritionally rich. This is our USP. The chocolates contain a min of 5 superfoods at a min of £11 per kilo. The demographic and audience we sell to understand this – you cannot buy these ingredients cheaply and they would not expect to, or there would be something wrong. 

How early do you begin preparing for the Christmas season?

We have to prepare when buyers do which can be up to 12 months in advance in some cases. All our customers work on different lead times and we have to be ready. 

What about production capacity?

Our chocolatier has worked tremendously hard to cover all our orders over the Xmas period. All of us in the business knows there are peaks and troughs and there is no down time in December.

What’s next for the company?

We are looking to upscale in the new year with a new facility but will continue to work with the same chocolatier.

New year is just as important for us as Christmas and we lead with the health agenda and promote our Maqui Berry Detox and nutrient dense truffles suitable for anyone exercising new year resolutions. 

Adam Mileusnic owns Viva Peru, a Peruvian food store and online retailer for home and hospitality industry customers

How important is the Christmas season and what kind of increase in sales do you experience?

We’ve seen an increase of around 40 per cent compared to October. The key has been in our combo kits, which make great gifts, such as our Peruvian chillies combo pack or our Classic Peru ingredients set. 

Do you use promotions or any other tactics to increase sales during this period?

With 99 per cent of our promotions done online, this keeps overheads low and provides great data to analyse effectiveness. We have increased spend on targeted social media and online adverts and these have driven significant traffic to the site. As we have a very niche product, using these we can pinpoint more effectively. We generally target people with an interest or link to Peru, and advertise in both English and Spanish to grow our market.

How well do you expect to do this year?

Christmas has been great, and through the increased traffic to the site we’ve grown our customer base. This is really positive, as we keep in touch with our customers regularly through social media and e-mail marketing. Any growth in our contact lists ultimately leads to faster growth, as we gain a lot of repeat custom from satisfied customers. With that in mind, we’re really positive about 2015.

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