Creating a chocolate experience Having returned from 5 years abroad in Asia, Colm Healy stood in the door of a chocolate factory on a sunny day in scenic Kerry and thought “I can do this”. One month later, he was the new owner of Skelligs Chocolate.
Colm dived in headfirst, spending the first year learning the business, from sweeping the floors to making the chocolate. Armed with a greater knowledge of operations, he spent his second year improving the factory’s running.
The business grew, and Skelligs Chocolate got listings with the big multiples. It was a whole different ball game for Colm. “We had to step up from just using GS1 barcodes on our products. We got a GLN from GS1 and started using EDI when supplying our chocolates to the big stockists with central distribution.”
Everything came to a halt for Colm in 2010 when a fire gutted the factory. “The fire destroyed the building, but not the business”. It was a tough year, full of introspection, but the time to reflect yielded a number of revelations about the business.
He decided to rebuild the factory as an open plan facility that was visitor friendly. Working closely with Bord Bia and Failte Ireland, Skelligs Chocolate was put on the map as a food tourism destination. From the start, Colm’s focus was on providing the best possible chocolate experience for visitors. “So many products out there are a generic commodity. The difference is where you can leave your customer feeling special. The key is in the attention to detail and in giving a personal service.”
Colm has three simple rules to achieve this. Every visitor receives a pleasant welcome to the factory, the premises are always spotless, and the staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and won’t pressure you to buy.
Colm has started a mail order business to build repeat custom from visitors, as well as to build corporate sales. “We’re looking to engage with people who’ve tasted our products, and to remain relevant to them.”
Gifting will play a big role in this endeavour, as many customers want to share their Skelligs Chocolate experience with friends and loved ones.
There are other goals that Colm is aiming to achieve this year, such as finishing his Master’s in Business Administration. “I want to make sure that we’re following best practice in the business.” Skelligs Chocolate are also hoping to release a chocolate book about their journey, the origins of chocolate and the surrounding area where the factory is located. The book will contain tasty recipes from their staff and customers, which would no doubt be a welcome addition to any chocolate lover’s life.
You can visit Skelligs Chocolate online at their
website, their yummy chocolate blog, or on Facebook. Alternatively, you can visit them in person amidst the beautiful landscape of Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry. VIDEO