Managing Director Neil Kelsall set up and runs Chocolat Madagascar from the Rural Business Centre in Bilsborrow and from Antananarivo in Madagascar – an island known for producing some of the world's best cocoa beans.
Unlike the big confectionery makers, Chocolat Madagascar does not have a huge marketing budget, but it has won more than sixty international awards fuelling its success as a sought-after gourmet product.
Chocolat Madagascar products are now sold in the UK, Europe, Canada, America, Japan and now in China.
Sales have grown around 30 per cent year-on-year, and in 2022 the aim is develop £2m in retail sales from the customer portfolio.
Sales, marketing, and innovation are handled in the UK and Madagascar, working with specialist companies dealing with areas including logistics and design.
The Department for International Trade has played a key role in working with Neil since he founded Chocolat Madagascar in 2013 and continues to help him promote the product worldwide.
International Trade Adviser Penny Wang-Orme has worked with Chocolat Madagascar on trade missions and exhibitions; and helped the company access the Internationalisation Fund, a co-investment grant scheme initiated and sustained by the DIT and supported by the European Regional Development Fund.
Neil said: "The support of the DIT has been hugely important, and a significant element of our success is due to their energy, effort and know-how. "They have helped us access new export markets by facilitating quality networking in both private and public sectors, exhibitions, trade visits, both real and virtual, and enable market research and various training disciplines from Lancashire.
"Most recently, they have assisted us in accessing China and Middle Eastern markets, all so vital to building a premium brand worldwide that creates a sustainable future for the people of one of Africa's least developed countries."
Neil has a track record of empowering the development and trade of home-grown products from African countries and ensuring they impact world markets.
His simple model “Raise Trade” aims to develop and manufacture products in their countries of origin.