Smart50 Awards 2015

7 Noosa Chocolate Factory

Revenue

$3.33 million

Growth

435.85%

Founders

Chris Thomson, 29, Amy Sargeantson, 29, Pam Thomson and Gordon Thomson

Head office

Brisbane

Year founded

2012

Employees

18

Industry

Manufacturing, transport and logistics

Website

noosachocolatefactory.com.au

The Noosa Chocolate Factory is only a few years old but has already managed to gain a strong foothold in the industry.

The business has one factory in Noosa and four retail outlets scattered throughout Queensland.

The retailer pays particular attention to local ingredients and specific dietary requirements.

All products – ranging from chocolate-coated cranberries to cocoa-dusted peanuts – are sold within 72 hours of production.

Because of this, Noosa Chocolate Factory turns over more than $3 million, landing it at number seven on this year’s Smart50.

Founder Chris Thomson told SmartCompany the most challenging thing with the business so far was building the brand from the ground up.

“We did not have any capital to invest in marketing or advertising,” Thomson says.

“Without investment in this area we were worried that it might take two to three years to build the brand organically. We learnt that making memorable products and creating great customer experiences had gotten the brand out there and talked about.

“We took every opportunity to get on unpaid commercial radio spots during Easter, Valentine’s Day and Christmas periods in return for talking about the making process of chocolate or giving expert opinions on chocolate whilst spruiking the brand at the same time.”

Thomson says it was also difficult deciding whether or not to sign a big retail lease in the middle of Brisbane.

The risk, however, paid off.

“I believe you need to situate your business amongst A-league retail in order to be taken seriously,” he says.

“Having stores within 100 metres of these guys has helped put us on that ‘go to’ Australian retail collection.”

Around 90% of Noosa Chocolate Factory’s staff have been with the business for 12 months or more.

When asked for the secret behind such a successful retention rate, Thomson says it’s all about creating a positive environment for staff.

“Even when you are having a terrible day,” Thomson says.

“Keep yourself healthy – fitness before business. Time off is important. If the business can’t run without you for three weeks or you can’t afford to turn it off for three weeks, then it’s time to fix that.”

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