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Accent Davenport's article
Taste Magazine  |  A Time to Celebrate  |  08 October 2015
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Head Chocolatier Jane Williams, husband Michael and their team down tools to celebrate another milestone in their growing artisan business, which delivered its first orders in 2007.

Although their son Ethan is only two, you'd be forgiven for thinking Michael and Jane Williams' happily sleepless demeanours indicate they've been parents for far longer. And you'd almost be right: their artisan chocolate business, nestled in a friendly little industrial estate in Pelaw, has just turned eight years old. After renting a much smaller space since 2007 the couple bought their new premises in 2013 and there's plenty of room to grow here. The business is expanding to fill newly refurbished office space upstairs and there's a family-sized row of chef's whites outside the factory door, where Davenport's two extra employees arrive each morning.

It's a business that has boomed through the shelves local delicatessens and food fayres, and been nurtured by love and loyalty during the recession. The enrober barely stops at Christmas and Easter time, with a brief hazy interlude in the summer where the team hold summer workshops and school visits. With almost everything in the factory being made to order; recipes are crafted by Head Chocolatier Jane and her team before the mixtures are enrobed, decorated and packed to perfection. Davenport's is driven by the public's love of hand-crafted produce and so not everything can be done in advance of the winter rush. They pause only momentarily to enjoy the Great British Summer - or, at least, what Newcastle-upon-Tyne experiences of it.

Bridget Hamilton has been with Davenport's since 2012, where her love of chocolate and marketing has proved a winning combination. "I came in over one summer whilst I was at University - supposedly for six weeks. I folded lots of boxes and probably ate more chocolates than I packed. Three years later and I'm still here! I've progressed to the marketing department now, using my degree to help with our branding and social media campaigns. I would say I still deplete the chocolate stock quite considerably, though."

Over her tenure Bridget has had a chance to witness some of Davenport's biggest achievements to date. "We have secured several great contracts with local businesses including Fenwick, a luxury department brand with 11 shops across the country. It's a big deal to supply to Fenwick because their flagship store opened on our very own high street in Newcastle in 1882. It was also amazing to see us move into the new premises. It's become quite a local talking point - 'Eee, did you know there's chocolate factory just behind the train station in Pelaw?'".

It's clear that some of the best artisan businesses come from humble beginnings, and the team are determined to remember that. "It's not that we fold our boxes by hand because we can't afford a machine. That's less true now that it ever has been. Our milk and cream arrives from a local dairy every Friday, and we drop the sprinkles on our truffles ourselves, and that's how we'll always do it."

Share a slice of Davenport's birthday celebrations with 20% off any online order this month, using code DBDAY8 at the checkout.

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