Indie retailers continue to appraise their business models

Small independent brands like Copperhouse Chocolate are attaching less value to their physical units having focused on other areas of revenue generation during Covid-19 and the various lockdowns.

Copperhouse Chocolate

From a unit on Islington’s Chapel Market in North London Copperhouse Chocolate operates a cafe in the front end and has production facilities in the back where chocolate, single-origin hot chocolate, a variety of baked goods including brownies, and ice cream are created. Juliet Sampson, owner of Copperhouse Chocolate, says: “The cafe is not as important now. We’ve concentrated on other things. During lockdown I’ve focused on the website, which although it is still a work in progress is [generating] increasing sales.”

She has also used her time to create an ice cream range following the departure from London of her usual supplier. The new range, which incorporates her chocolate into various flavours such as
Raspberry Chocolate, has been well received – certainly by Sampson who says: “I liked it so we’ll continue making it. It fits in very well with what we do.”

What Copperhouse Chocolate specifically does is produce vegan products. These are sold through the cafe and online but the key channel is wholesale – as well as at festivals including Glastonbury, which of course have been out of action for the past 18 months.

Vegan foods have become so assimilated into the mainstream market in the UK that Sampson says many of her customers are simply oblivious to the fact her products are all vegan. ”They are buying it for the taste. We thought about how much we should say about it being vegan and we decided it was chocolate first and vegan second. It’s all about the quality of the food,” she explains.

There has also been a greater understanding of vegan food that has moved it beyond being perceived all too often as an option for helping people lose weight. The goods produced by Copperhouse Chocolate are certainly not designed for health reasons, although Sampson does quite rightly point out that cocoa does have numerous health benefits. As an aside she says her hot chocolate does in fact also have half the calories of a brownie. What’s not to like.

Glynn Davis, Editor, Retail Insider