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Lanchester hits sweet spot with confectionery acquisition

Published:  16 August, 2017

Lanchester Wines is continuing to diversify its offering and expanding its gifting business with the buyout of a high-end chocolate maker.

The “multi-million pound deal” will see the County Durham merchant become owners of Yorkshire-based confectioner, Bon Bon’s.

The new addition will become part of Lanchester Wines’ gifting division, which supplies a variety of gift box formats – around 40% of which include wine - to high street retailers, depart stores and online.

Gifting has become an increasingly important part of the business model for Lanchester over the past decade.

After cutting their teeth on wine nearly 40 years ago, owners Tony and Veronica Clearly branched out into gifting in 2007 when they started offering wine gifts and hampers.

Now Lanchester Gifts also includes and high end hamper business, Spicers of Hythe, which was acquired in 2015, and even a pet product brand - Best in Show.

Following the buyout, MD Tony Cleary spoke to Harpers about the growing profitability of the gifting business which is due to reach turnover of £20m in 2017.

“[Our wine business] still does very well, but wine margins are always going to be tight,” Cleary said. “Gifting works well for wine. We can do amazing things with box lids and bespoke lids which are absolutely brilliant.”

“We saw the acquisition of Bon Bon’s as a natural progression for our business, allowing us to reach new markets and extend our product offering,” he added.

Bon Bon’s will continue to operate as a stand-alone business under the existing Bon Bon’s brand, with directors Mark Rowntree and Peter Julian continuing to manage the team in Whetherby, Yorkshire.

Like Lanchester, Bon Bon’s is a family owned business.

It’s position within Lanchester Gifts and the wider Lanchester group of companies will provide “additional security and access to shared resources” the company said.

As well as gradual expansion into gifts, Lanchester also owns bottling site Greencroft Bottling - one of Europe's biggest. 

It also its own energy supply division, Lanchester Energy, through which it supplies 70% of its energy to Greencroft, and 30% into the national grid.

The company has also seen the balance of online and bricks and mortar shift, as the high street continues to feel the pressure from ecommerce.

The most significant example is BHS – once Lanchester Gifts’ biggest customer, which controversially collapsed under former owner, Sir Philip Green.

Read our full Q&A profile with Tony Cleary in the next edition of Harpers' sister title, the Drinks Wholesaler.