Heir to the Cadbury dynasty reveals how he built his own £14m business

Heir to the Cadbury dynasty reveals how he survived ‘Curly Wurly’ taunts at school and turned his back on £75,000 Dragons’ Den deal to build his own £14m chocolate business without a penny of his famous family’s money

  • James Cadbury is following in the footsteps of his great-great-great grandfather

An heir to the Cadbury dynasty has revealed how he created his own £14million chocolate business without a penny of the £4.6billion fortune his family created.

James Cadbury was the target of playground taunts such as ‘Curly Wurly’ when he was a child on account of his surname, but now he’s had the last laugh after following in the footsteps of one of his ancestors. 

The 37 year old’s great-great-great grandfather John Cadbury set up the family’s business in 1824, and it has since gone from strength-to-strength, becoming the most popular chocolate brand in the UK.

However, due to his family’s Quaker traditions and philanthropy, James hasn’t benefitted from the multi-billion pound company that dominates confectionary in Britain today. 

That hasn’t stopped him making his own way into the world of chocolate, and he has now set up his own successful business through his own hard work – and even spurned the advances of admirers from Dragon’s Den.

James Cadbuy, pictured, has set up his own £14m chocolate business without a penny of his family’s money

He is following in the footsteps of his great-great-great grandfather, John Cadbury, who set up the Cadbury chocolate business in the 1800s

Speaking to The Sun, James revealed a passion for chocolate and his family’s history prompted him to set up Love Cocoa, a confectionary firm which plants one tree for every bar sold.

The chocolatier took a circuitous route to business success though, as despite growing up five miles from the Bourneville factory where the now American-owned Cadbury still makes its products, he had no shares in the company. 

His family’s heritage was never far from his mind though. – at school he was taunted with the name ‘Curly Wurly’ by fellow pupils on account of his surname, but he took it in his stride as he ‘found it quite funny and quite liked it’. 

He said: ‘I also used to do lots of school projects on Cadbury so I definitely had that passion for it, and I just loved how they set it up.’

Despite this, James initially went to work for a pension fund, but after seven years in finance decided he wasn’t cut out for it and change tack to something closer to home. 

After going on gardening leave, he set up Love Cocoa with a Virgin StartUp loan worth £25,000, and backed this up with £25,000 of his own savings.

‘I really had no experience or any help from my family,’ he said. 

Things went well, but the business really took off after James appeared on BBC show Dragon’s Den – and even accepted an investment offer from entrepreneur Tej Lalvani on camera.

Despite growing up five miles from Bourneville, where Cadbury chocolate continues to be made today, James has no shares in the company

James, pictured here with his partner Maria Rodriguez, spent seven years working in finance before pivoting to chocolate

He appeared on Dragon’s Den, pictured, where he received an offer of investment from entrepreneur Tej Lalvani 

‘We did get a couple of offers and we did do a deal with Tej [Lalvani] on TV, but there’s a lot of back and forth which goes on off screen, so after negotiations, we decided that it was not something we wanted to do,’ he said.

‘But we left on really good terms with Tej and, after it got aired, we got lots of publicity.

‘From being on the show, we picked up a few new stockists, and tripled our revenue within 18 months.

‘So it was really big for us and ever since that we’ve continued to be able to grow.

‘It’s a great programme to go on – it’s definitely helped the business. We’re 10 times the size now.’

James says Love Cocoa has since had an injection of £4.25m from a recent investor, and wants the company to open up shops across Britain in the future, with a store planned for London this year.

At the moment it exports to more than 10 countries, and has already planted over 1.6million trees, as he takes his family’s chocolate-making history to the next level.

He said: ‘A lot of people say that chocolate must be in the blood. But there are no other family members, as far as I’m aware, who have gone into chocolate, so I’m the first which is super exciting!’

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