In 1974 an opportunity arose for Mike and Avril Briggs to acquire some second hand metal chocolate moulds and a melting kettle. This was the spark that inspired them to start up their own chocolate business. With limited knowledge in the art of chocolate manufacturing, the early years presented many challenges but Mike and Avril persevered and learned by their mistakes.
By 1976 they had set up their own shop in George Street, Hadleigh, and word of mouth started to spread. Encouraged by the interest shown by the national media in the "smallest chocolate factory in the UK", they boldly entered the wholesale trade and were approached by some of the top London stores, including Harrods and Army & Navy Stores. They toiled through many late nights and early mornings to fulfil orders from wholesalers and retailers alike.
In 1981 expansion was required to meet the growing demand and the stables at the rear of the premises were converted to create a purpose built chocolate factory with room for the necessary machinery and storage. This enabled them to increase their customer base significantly. Clients now included more London stores, airlines, cross-channel ferries and a well-known cake manufacturer.
In 1989, their daughter Angela and future son in law Donny entered the business. Further expansion was required in 2005 so Hadleigh Maid moved into a new purpose built, air conditioned factory unit on the outskirts of Hadleigh. Their low carb chocolate products could now be found on the shelves of Tesco. Soon after this Tesco Local listed 3 Hadleigh Maid branded lines in 73 East Anglian stores.
Retail progress continued in 2011 and we started supplying the East of England Coop stores through their Local Sourcing initiative with bars and a selection box.
In 2013 their CEO asked us to make our version of a Walnut Whip and in no time our milk chocolate Walnut Mallow Whirls were “outselling Mars bars” in their stores.
Our relationship with East of England Coop remains forever strong and we have launched a whole raft of new products including large chocolate tea cakes, dark chocolate mallow walnut whirls, truffle filled walnut whirls and new Dark Chocolate Vegan Friendly Walnut Whirls, Nut Truffle Bars and Truffles. This has also lead to winning 3 listings with Coop Head Office too supply their East Anglian stores too.
Hadleigh Maid are extremely keen to keep growing our business through local and independent channels and welcome enquiries from all retail, wholesale and foodservice sectors big or small.