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Fancy owning a chocolate factory?

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Three months ago, OCHO was ticking along very happily making and selling chocolate at our manufactory in Vogel St, Dunedin. We're a privately-owned and small-scale craft maker, with a focus on quality, craftsmanship and flavour.

Then the playing field tipped sideways a little. Mondelez, a large global corporate that owns the Cadbury brand, announced it was closing the Cadbury Factory in Dunedin. 

Not surprisingly, this resulted in a negative reaction from the community and factory staff. A group of citizens got together to see what they could do to save the factory and the jobs. Following a public rally and international media interest, more than $5 million was pre-pledged to keep chocolate and confectionary making in Dunedin. Pre-pledging is not a commitment, more like an expression of interest in the plan.

After looking at some of the figures, the ‘Own the Factory’ campaign concluded that there wasn't sufficient future in the confectionery lines, and it decided to focus on chocolate-making only. At that point OCHO got in touch with the people behind the campaign to see if we had any common ground to build one strong Dunedin-based chocolate maker. The result is that we have joined forces.

Most of our initial discussions were around agreeing some principles that reflected both OCHO's values and business objectives and what the campaign wanted to achieve. 

These agreed principles are to:

  • Make high quality chocolate
  • Pay fair wages to workers
  • Pay fair prices for cocoa beans
  • Retain industry and craft skills in Dunedin
  • Respect the environment through sustainable business practices
  • Keep worker-CEO pay ratios within an agreed multiple
  • Support the wider communities of our workers, growers & customers

Since then we've been working on the business plan and organising next steps, including forming a new company that will buy OCHO and scale-up production, including investing in state of the art chocolate manufacturing machinery, moving to new premises, developing chocolate tourism and expanding premium sales.

This week we advertised for Directors for this company and applicants will be short-listed early next month. At the end of October/beginning November the crowdfunding campaign will be launched through PledgeMe to raise the equity needed to get started.

If owning a chocolate factory sounds appealing to you, then this is your chance to be part of some pretty exciting plans. You should read through the principles we've agreed to make sure you're on board with our direction, then watch out for the announcement that the crowd-funding is starting. 

We're only allowed to raise $2M through crowd-funding in any 12 month period, so if more than $5M was pre-pledged it suggests that it won't take long to reach $2M.