Business is booming at Swizzels Matlow, which has been providing sweet treats for the UK and further afield for more than 85 years.
Established by brothers Alfred and Maurice Matlow in London in 1928, Swizzels Matlow relocated to the High Peak in 1940, at the height of the blitz.
Since then, the business has gone from strength to strength, seeing their best ever year in 2013.
Currently over 600 people are employed at the New Mills factory, the company’s only UK manufacturing site.
It’s where all of Swizzels Matlow’s well-known and much-loved brands are created, from Love Hearts to Refreshers, Drumsticks, Parma Violets and Fizzers.
And demand for the products is so high, that the factory is in production 24 hours a day, five days a week.
Managing Director Jeremy Dee, whose family has been involved with the business since 1933, said: “We had our best year ever last year and in the current economic climate, that is something we’re particularly proud of.”
And it’s not just in the UK where the company is doing well. “We export about 20 per cent of our products,” Jeremy added. “Big markets for us are the Scandinavian countries. Sweden is a big market, as is Austria, Germany and Switzerland. In Norway, the big thing is Drumsticks. But we also supply Israel, South Africa and Australia.”
The company is keen to ensure they don’t rest on their laurels, and product lines frequently change and evolve. Last year, Swizzels Matlow launched its Squashies range, softer versions of popular lines including Drumsticks, Love Hearts and Refreshers. And unique events, such as the Royal Wedding, or a visit by the late Princess Diana in 1991, are often marked with special ranges.
But at the heart of it all is a desire to remain traditional when it comes down to the day-to-day running of the company.
“The company is still family owned,” Jeremy said. “I’ve got a cousin working here and my father and uncle are still involved.
“I think people appreciate the fact it’s a family business, it gives them a sense of belonging. It’s also quite comforting for the people who work here.
“There are a lot of couples working here. Lots of families have worked within the business for generations. Often someone’s brother, sister, father-in-law or another relative has worked here too.”
The coming year is shaping up to be another busy one for the company, with production already well underway on the seasonal lines, so the future is looking pretty sweet for Swizzels Matlow.
Kiss me, hot lips and heart throb - just some of the phrases which adorn the ever-popular Swizzels Matlow range Love Hearts.
For six decades, the sweets have been providing people all over the world with a unique way of expressing their feelings. Originally created to go inside a Christmas cracker, Love Hearts are now an iconic brand and their popularity shows no sign of waning.
With 2014 marking the 60th anniversary of Love Hearts, a special anniversary pack has been produced, with people being asked to come up with a new design to mark 60 years of love.
Ten lucky winners will see their own Love Hearts sweet being produced during a visit to the factory, and the sweets will then go on sale.
So with a brand that is as well known for its phrases as it is its taste, how do Swizzels Matlow come up with the messages on the sweets?
“The phrases that we currently use have probably been in existence for quite a long time,” said managing director Jeremy Dee. “They are a combination of internally generated phrases and some that have come from external sources too.”
Special edition Love Hearts have been produced to mark major events, and fans of the boyband One Direction can even buy Love Hearts with the band members’ names on!
There are currently around 150 romantic messages on Love Hearts with 1.75 billion sweets being produced each year.
And Swizzels Matlow will be hoping the love for one of their best-known brands will continue for another 60 years.