MP visits chocolate maker’s new premises

Rishi Sunak with Dennis Graves.

A Richmond business has embarked on expansion as demand for its handmade chocolate grows.

Mocha, which sells chocolates from its café in the centre of Richmond and online, has opened a dedicated production unit on the Zetland Estate, near Richmond.

Mocha, which is operated by husband and wife team Elizabeth and Dennis Graves, are now producing their range of 70-plus hand-crafted artisan chocolates at Aske Hall Stables.

An additional full-time member of staff has been recruited to help chocolatier Dennis to increase local production.

Rishi Sunak, MP for Richmond (Yorks), visited the new unit to talk to the expanded production team and try his hand making a Chocaholic bar.

He said: “I applaud Dennis and Elizabeth’s vision for their business and their drive in seeing and taking the opportunity to grow. I wish them the very best of fortune as they increase their production of Yorkshire chocolate.”

Elizabeth Graves said she and her husband were delighted to welcome Mr Sunak to the new production centre and his interest in their development as a business.

She said: “We’ve come to realise that our USP is the chocolates we handmake ourselves and we wanted to increase our production and lessen our reliance on other suppliers.

“It also gives us greater control over the products that we sell and that is something our experience over the last 18 months has taught us is very valuable.”

“Our old production area in the basement of the Richmond shop was just too cramped to enable us to accommodate the team and equipment required to increase the range and quantity of our own products.”

Mrs Graves said new equipment had been purchased with the help of a 50 per cent grant from The Supply Chain Network, an organisation which assists small and medium-sized enterprises.

This had helped cover the cost of a tempering machine which keeps liquid chocolate at the correct temperature and consistency for the hand-manufacturing process.

Mrs Graves said she and her husband were grateful for the grant assistance they had received and the Covid-19 economic support measures – including furlough, small business grants, VAT relief and a Bounce Back loan.

During his visit, Mr Sunak decorated one of Mocha’s Chocoholic bars – a combination of chocolate brownie and fudge – with caramel sprinkles.