EDINBURGH chocolate producer Ocelot is ready for a busy 2020 after installing more tempering equipment, thanks to a loan from UMi Debt Finance Scotland.
Husband and wife team Matt Broadbent and Ish Neat began by making chocolate in their kitchen and selling it at farmers’ markets. Since 2013, they’ve grown their business to employ five production workers at their factory in Loanhead near Edinburgh and now sell their bars in shops including Harrods department store in London.
Ocelot exports to 15 countries, including China, Japan and the United States, and they also supply chocolate bars to online flower delivery firm Bloom & Wild.
Ocelot borrowed £40,000 from UMi Debt Finance Scotland, which enabled the company to install another three tempering machines in Loanhead.
“Buying the new tempering machines has allowed us to increase production,” explained Matt. “Before we bought the new equipment, we had to shut down a machine each time we needed to change the flavour we were making.”
Matt and Ish became chocolate makers after working as chefs in Italy, France and Hampshire, with Ish using her background as an illustrator to create the designs for their packaging.
The couple liken Ocelot’s high grade chocolate to fine wines or speciality cheeses “…with flavour notes that come in waves and linger long after you finish…”, and explain that they’re a world away from standard chocolate bars.
Sustainability is at the heart of Matt and Ish’s business. Their chocolate is sourced from organic supplier Original Beans, which pays farmers a fair price for their produce so they can both support their families and care for the environment. Ocelot chocolate uses 70% cocoa made from beans that are grown in Virunga national park, Africa’s oldest nature reserve and home to the last mountain gorillas.
That focus on ethical standards extends to their packaging too, with the sources for their paper certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council and their inner film being compostable both at home and by industry. Ocelot is also certified as a “Living Wage Employer”.
The business received a £30,000 award from the Scottish Edge competition in December 2015 and has remained in touch with the contest’s organisers, who in turn made Ocelot aware of UMi Debt Finance Scotland.
Buying the machinery with the loan has allowed Ocelot to hire an additional member of staff, with the firm aiming to recruit a further three workers over the coming three years, including a factory manager.
Matt said: “UMi Debt Finance Scotland was great to deal with. They answered all of our questions and gave us complete reassurance, so we decided to go for it.
“The loan was really well timed because it has allowed us to grow our business at just the right time for our growth plans.”
Tom Brock, Head of UMi Debt Finance Scotland, said:
“Matt and Ish are building a sustainable brand based on strong ethical principles which underpins every aspect of the company’s operations.
“They are passionate about the quality of their product which is reflected in the growing UK and export demand for Ocelot’s products, and we are delighted to support them in the next stage of the company’s growth.”