In 1993, while running a floundering Christmas decorations company, Chris and Pauline Howarth came up with the idea for Bon Bon Buddies. They borrowed £15k from Chris’s dad and secured another £40k from a government loan guarantee scheme. Their first big break came the next Christmas, when Woolworth’s placed a £65k order for chocolate Christmas crackers. Sales have grown from £711k in 1994 to £4.6m in 1997. To remain lean, the Gwent-based company focuses solely on sales and design, outsourcing all manufacturing and most of its packaging and distribution. The company partners with major suppliers. It trades market research for shortened lead times and better managed stock. Similarly, with customers, it offers advise about stocking and displaying merchandise in exchange for detailed sales data. The company sells novelty confectionery items ranging from chocolate Monopoly to a chocolate after-dinner Twister game for adults.
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