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James Cadbury turns down Dragons’ investment

Confectionery entrepreneur James Cadbury, the great-great-great grandson of John Cadbury, successfully gained investment for his Love Cocoa company appearing on the BBC Dragons’ Den television series this Christmas.

Love Cocoa was set up by Cadbury in 2016 after he left his job as a city trader to pursue his business dream, following in his family’s footsteps. However, after securing two offers from Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani before accepting the latter’s deal, Cadbury ultimately decided to go it alone.

Cadbury was in the den asking the Dragons for £75k for a 5% share of the business. The money was to be invested in two key areas of the business: developing new products including those using online personalisation and expanding the Love Cocoa team.

Love Cocoa received an unanimously positive response from the Dragons who all praised the quality of the chocolate and the brand’s ethical and sustainable credentials (10% of profits got to the Rainforest Foundation). Viewers also saw an open and frank discussion about previous investment in the brand.

“It was a tough process that was also incredibly nerve-wracking; I felt the pressure of having to uphold the family name,” said Cadbury. “To be invited onto the show was an amazing experience both in terms of potential investment and exposure, but the final deal was not quite what I wanted. Tej is a great entrepreneur and a true gentleman; he completely understood, and we left on good terms.”

Since filming in 2018, Love Cocoa has seen substantial growth driven by new stockists such as John Lewis coming on board, as well as a focus on exports, which now account for 30% of the business’s revenue. With turnover upwards of £700,000 and the brand due to launch in Paperchase and Ocado in the new year, the future looks bright for the Cadbury heir.

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