A well-known York business has been bought out of administration and will be able to trade on under a new parent company.
Administrators were appointed to York Cocoa House Ltd at the end of November last year.
The business trades as York Cocoa Works, based on Castlegate – where chocolate is manufactured and sold, and people can take part in chocolate making workshops and visit the café.
The company had been in a corporate voluntary arrangement (CVA) since 2020. That is an agreement to pay creditors over a fixed period. The CVA ended when the administration started in 15 November.
Now, a new company – YCW Trading Ltd – has taken over the brand name, business affairs, liabilities and assets of York Cocoa House Ltd.
Founder Sophie Jewett says that has given the company the breathing space to restructure and allow the business to grow.
“We needed to make sure that we could keep everything we had built and created intact,” she said. “I couldn’t do this alone.”
YCW Trading Ltd has one listed director, Mark Turner, a 57-year-old Bermudian finance director. Sophie said she will also be appointed a director of the business as it’s a shared ownership model.
She told YorkMix that Mark is a long-time family friend who works in the banking sector and runs a restaurant.
“Mark is working with me to help find the right model, energy and resources to drive the business forward for the future,” she said.
He has invested in the business and has the experience and determination “to help us build more resilience” she added.
The takeover has saved all 12 jobs at the Cocoa Works.
Sophie said a series of external challenges had hit York Cocoa House Ltd, putting it into financial difficulty. These included the pandemic, for which the company had received very little support, and the massive hike in energy prices.
As inflation rocketed, the Cocoa Works’ electricity bill leapt from £1,000 to £4,000 a month, and there was also a big rise in the price of the raw ingredients.
In addition, one of the specialist chocolate manufacturing machines broke down, and the company wasn’t able to source a replacement part for months, cutting production capacity.
The business has been running for 12 years, and is based on Sophie’s principles of fair trade. She sources the cocoa direct from the farmers, and aims to make all aspects of the company sustainable.
“I’ve been very idealistic in what I was trying to achieve, and quite ambitious in the issues I wanted to tackle in the cocoa chain,” she said.
York Cocoa Works has also been a key player in the city’s annual Chocolate Festival every Easter.
Sophie paid tribute to her team. “I’m really proud of them.
“The team have been phenomenal in inspiring me to keep driving forward.”