Sweet success: Hartlepool toffee-making company looks to expand

Geoff and Carol Earl, who run the confectionary company, Sweet Niblets from their Clavering home, are one of the winners of the Mail's Local Business Accelerator competition and will now receive free advertising in the Mail as well as mentoring from a successful business person.
Geoff and Carol Earl, who run the confectionary company, Sweet Niblets from their Clavering home, are one of the winners of the Mail's Local Business Accelerator competition and will now receive free advertising in the Mail as well as mentoring from a successful business person.
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A TOFFEE-MAKING company is taking a tasty new twist by becoming a delicatessen.

Life has been sweet for Carole and Geoff Earl ever since they entered the Hartlepool Mail-backed Local Business Accelerators competition last year – and won the town leg of the contest.

Now, partly thanks to the prize they won, they are expanding and opening a delicatessen based in Stockton town centre.

It will sell cheeses, oils, spices, patisserie, charcuterie and other European meats, artisan bread and “lunch to go” such as bruschetta and home-made Scotch eggs.

The delicatessen in the Castlegate Centre in Stockton will be called Earls of Ashwood and will open in around two weeks.

It’s a significant change for Carole, 51, and her husband Geoffrey, 38, whose Hartlepool company Sweet Niblets Confectionery won the Hartlepool leg of Local Business Accelerators.

Sweet Niblets produces a range of toffees and its products will become part of the goods on sale at Earls of Ashwood Ltd but the name would be “subsumed into the new business,” said Carole.

She said the business was being based in Stockton because “they are putting in a lot of independent traders in. They got in touch with us and said there was an opportunity to run a delicatessen and I said yes.

“I have always wanted to do that.”

Earls of Ashwood plans to stock products made by local companies.

“We want to keep trade within the North-East and Yorkshire,” said Carole. “We want to keep money within the Tees Valley economy.”

The company is also planning an increased presence on the internet. To achieve that, it has worked with Pam Hargreaves, the director of Hartlepool firm XIVVI and who was also a mentor for the Local Business Accelerators competition.

“All this has come about from picking up the Hartlepool Mail and entering Local Business Acccelerators,” said Carole.

She also revealed that, although she would be running Earls of Ashwood herself at first, she hoped to “look towards an apprenticeship programme quite quickly” as she expands her business.

And Carole added: “We shall be looking in the future to opening a second shop, perhaps in three to four years time, and perhaps that will be in Hartlepool.”

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