Northumberland confectioners set out plans for expansion into South of England and Ireland

Sweetdreams is celebrating its 30th anniversary as it sets out ambitious plans for growth over the next five years

Matthew and Cathy Stephenson of Sweetdreams, based in Cramlington
Matthew and Cathy Stephenson of Sweetdreams, based in Cramlington

Confectionery manufacturer Sweetdreams is targeting expansion outside the North East, taking its popular Choc Nibbles products to the south of England and Ireland.

The family firm, which is marking its 30th year, has set out ambitious plans to grow over the next five years, adopting a strategy which should see it increase turnover by 10% year-on-year.

Managing director Matthew Stephenson’s plans include increasing its national footprint by extending the distribution and wholesale network, and also introducing new product lines to its Choc Nibbles range.

Since taking over the business in 2007 after buying out its former owners, Mr Stephenson has grown the business to an 11-strong team and more than doubled turnover.

More than £80,000 has also been invested in the Cramlington factory following a grant secured from Arch Northumberland, to increase production capability and to diversify into new packaging formats.

As part of Sweetdreams’ significant investment strategy, the firm has purchased new manufacturing machinery, expanded warehousing capacity by 50 percent and taken on five new recruits to meet increasing demand.

Mr Stephenson said: “We’re delighted to be celebrating Sweetdreams’ 30th anniversary.

“Since 2007 we’ve expanded our range of Choc Nibbles flavours, which now includes – original, mint and orange, Toffee Crumble and Choc Lick.

“In 2014, to reach new audience groups we introduced 200g resealable ‘grab bags’ and, in January we launched two new products - Jammie Choc Nibbles and Posh Choc Nibbles.

“This year we’re targeting double digit growth. Key focus areas include targeting the growing discount sector, to extend our distribution and wholesale network particularly in southern England.

“With a new distributor recently confirmed, we’re seeking opportunities for expansion into Southern and Northern Ireland. We’re also looking at seasonal gifting lines and potential export opportunities.”

Founded in 1985 from the legacy of F&M Dobsons of Ponteland, Sweetdreams initially operated from a small unit located in Cramlington, employing four people and launching with its first product, Choc Nibbles.

The Stephenson family bought the company in 2007 and now Sweetdreams dispatches over 15 tonnes worth of product on a weekly basis across the UK.

Evoking nostalgic school day memories of eating quarters of chocolate from paper bags, Choc Nibbles are well known across Northern England.

Mr Stephenson added: “Choc Nibbles represents a quirky and unique British brand, founded here in the North East and I am thrilled and committed to be part of its ongoing success.”

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