Picture by Parkway Photography
Pictured with the Magic Choc products are, Stephen Lennie of Choc-o-Bloc, with Olive Hill, Invest NI, (middle), and Karen Lennie of Choc-o-Bloc.
Newtownards-based Choc-o-Bloc has secured its first sales in Russia for its edible children’s toy, Magic Choc following assistance from Invest Northern Ireland.
The company has pioneered technology that allows children to shape 100 per cent Belgian chocolate into models and then eat them. Choc-o-Bloc is now working with a leading international toy wholesaler and distributor, The In Thing, based at Accrington in Lancashire, to grow sales of its products including the recently launched Moshi Monster toys, now among the industry’s most popular.
The company employs eight people at its manufacturing plant at Kiltonga, near Newtownards, and is already exporting to 40 countries in Europe and the Far East. The products are also on sale in ToysRUs stores in key international markets.
Invest NI provided the company with a range of support, advice and guidance on branding and packaging plus help with the complex issue of Intellectual Property.
Stephen Lennie, Managing Director and founder of the business said: “We are immensely excited by the response we are now receiving from both the toy and confectionery industries to the development of our unique products. They are the result of five years of research and my experience as an engineer and has involved changing the melting point of good quality chocolate.
“Our technology allows the chocolate to be handcrafted into various models without melting in the process. The products offer children, especially those aged from 6-12 years, a fun and clean way to play with and enjoy quality chocolate.
“Our packaging also shows children fun ways to make a range of models, including Moshi Monsters, and then eat them when they feel like it. We use only the best quality Belgian chocolate, milk, dark and white, in all our products which are produced in our plant in Newtownards. This ensures that we have complete control over the whole process.
“The relationship we have established with The In Thing in Accrington is giving us great access to this company’s knowledge and established network within the international toy industry.
“Invest NI has been extremely supportive and has guided us on how we can protect the technology and our overall business model.”
On a visit to the company, Olive Hill, Invest NI’s Director of Innovation and Technology Solutions said: “This is a highly innovative company, which is the only company in the world to offer a pliable chocolate, has created a virtual revolution within the huge international toy industry.
“We have been able to help the company with packaging design, branding and the essential intellectual property protection of this very exciting technology. Choc-o-Bloc is an excellent example of how innovation can open up new business opportunities. The potential for sales in international markets is vast. It just goes to show how companies, both large and small, can benefit from the knowledge and expertise within the teams at Invest NI.”