A passion for chocolate drives BT’s first ‘business champion’ in Yorks & Humber

York Cocoa House’s managing director Sophie Jewett has been selected as Yorkshire and the Humber’s first ‘BT Business Champion’.

Sophie was selected because of her passion – for both chocolate and business – which has seen her rapidly build a sustainable company in the ‘home of chocolate’, as well as her ambitious future plans and clever use of technology. She will join the growing list of Champions from across the UK who want to share what they have learnt in setting up and running their own businesses.

Passionate about chocolate from an early age, Sophie founded York Cocoa House as a café, chocolate shop and production facility in 2011. In addition to producing chocolates that are sold in the shop, the team also runs classes for people of all abilities who wish to learn chocolate making, from children through to experienced chefs.

The café, in a double-fronted Georgian town house in central York, has been designed to create a traditional, homely environment for customers, and houses a collection of York chocolate memorabilia. Behind the scenes, however, it is every bit a modern company, using the latest technologies for invoicing, accounting and stock control, along with wireless tablet devices instead of tills.

Technology has allowed the business to work efficiently and lay the groundwork for future plans and growth. Part of Sophie’s expansion includes plans for the creation of the York Chocolate Works – a chocolate processing facility, with a visitor centre and education and workshop facilities, along with a café and shop, all housed within the former Terry’s chocolate factory site.

Sophie Jewett, managing director at York Cocoa House, said: “It’s easy enough to set up a business if you spot a niche in the market and have the passion to get it off the ground. But there are lots of things the books don’t tell you – that’s why I’m excited to sign up to the BT Business Champions programme and to share all the things I learnt along the way.”

Danny Longbottom, BT Business managing director for small and medium enterprises, said: “Sophie has a fantastic story and an infectious enthusiasm for business, which has sprung from a love of chocolate. By sharing her story and talking through the challenges she faced, we hope that she will inspire others.

“As a company, BT is working with lots of businesses like Sophie’s, helping them understand and take full advantage of the possibilities brought by the latest digital technologies – and that’s a central goal of our Champions programme.”

The BT Business Champions’ programme is designed to celebrate successful small and medium-sized businesses across the UK and to encourage them to share advice with others. BT works with Champions to provide practical advice to other business owners – and those who are considering starting their own business – via question and answer and opinion articles in the local and business press, and online video advice. Roundtable discussions and ‘business surgeries’ are also held with Business Champions. .
Other BT Business Champions include Kerrie Murray from North East interior furnishings specialist Pins & Ribbons’ and Jorrit Jorritsma from Keswick-based bag brand Millican.

For more details about the BT Business Champions, or to find out how your company can become one, visit http://www.insight.bt.com/en/features/business-champions