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Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green visits Churchill's Confectionery in Borehamwood
A company that has been manufacturing high quality chocolate and biscuit tins for 24 years has received a visit from government minister this morning.
Based in Stirling Way in Borehamwood, Churchill’s Confectionery is best known for its sweet tins in the shape of phone boxes and buses, popular as souvenirs and as gifts all over the world.
This morning, the family business received a visit from Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green, who came to hear about the company’s success in selling to foreign markets.
The purpose of his visit was to meet companies like Churchill’s who are successfully exporting overseas and to encourage others to work with UK Trade and Investment, (UKTI), the government’s exporting department, to help them do the same.
Begun as a small independent business in 1989 by Allan Bodnitz, the company now exports its products across Europe, Asia and America.
In 2012 it expanded its export market by 40 per cent, under the guidance of export manager Laurence Montrognon, and has already seen a 30 per cent expansion this year.
The country now plans to expand into Japan, Indonesia and the Far East.
During the visit, Ms Montrognon thanked UKTI for its help and advice in aiding the company’s expansion through doing everything from arranging meetings abroad to translating marketing material.
Designer Monica Lambert described how she painted each box by hand before they were sent to manufacturers to be made.
The designs, ranging from art deco images of Hollywood to flowers, animals and London buildings, are worked on in a painstaking process that could take 18 months and cost £100,000 before she is satisfied with the final product.
Mr Bodnitz’s daughter Kim Winston, who is responsible for selling in duty free, said the company used mainly British and European manufacturers to make the boxes and bought most of their sweets from British producers.
She said: “We spend a lot to ensure our sweets and chocolates are made to the highest standard with natural ingredients. My father is very proud of being a British company.”
Lord Green praised the company's business model and encouraged them to expand into Indonesia and the Middle East.
He said: “The Government has recently launched a campaign to help small food and drink businesses like Churchill’s expand overseas.
“The domestic market and the European markets are slow, so we need to encourage businesses to look at overseas markets like Japan, China and South Korea.
“Increasing the number of UK businesses which sell overseas is a fundamental building block of the Government’s plan for growth.
“Worldwide there is a growing appetite and appreciation for British brands and I’m pleased to meet firms like Churchill’s Confectionery, which are working closely with UKTI, and reaping the benefits."
Also on the visit was UKTI East of England representative Liz Basing.
She described the success of businesses across Hertfordshire, one of which was now exporting products to Burma.
She said: "Products which are quintessentially British are always attractive to overseas buyers and Churchill’s Confectionery will enjoy lots of success in trading abroad."
Speaking after the visit, Mr Bodnitz said he worked hard to ensure his company benefited the people of Borehamwood.
He said: “In 2010 we employed 20 people, in three years this is doubled. All of them come from the local area and many of them have been here 20 years.
“I also rent out space to small businesses to help them start up. I’m passionate about the quality of my products and keen to benefit the area as well.”