Fresh chocolate firm Russell & Atwell wins investment in BBC Dragons’ Den


Two dynamic entrepreneurs have successfully emerged from the BBC’s Dragons’ Den TV series with the choice of a full sweep of five offers to take their confectionery business to the next level, writes Neill Barston.

Steve Russell and Giles Atwell set up their fresh chocolate business on the corner of Cadbury, Birmingham, in 2020, with a total of 30 years of industry experience between them.

In an episode just aired on the BBC, the couple selected an offer from Dragons Peter Jones and Steve Bartlett, a 10% share in the business each, in return for an investment of £90,000 to develop the company.

Reflecting on their achievement which will see Russell & Atwell gain key commercial support, Giles said: “The ‘long lasting’ chocolate bar was invented at the start of the 20th century, but most homes have had fridges since the 1950s, so while fresh the milk, pasta and desserts all migrated into the fridge, the chocolate was left, literally, on the shelf. It is high time that fresh chocolate became the reference in terms of quality, simplicity of ingredients and indulgence.

Launched as an e-commerce business in 2020, the team bakes five varieties of chilled fresh chocolates from their Birmingham kitchen in Bournville. This includes Creamy Milk, Delicious Salted Caramel, Creamy Hazelnut Crackle, Smooth Dark and Extra Rich Dark Chocolates are made with delicious, high quality and sustainable ingredients including responsibly sourced cocoa, British cream fresh organic butter and wildflower honey.

Chocolate lovers can opt for letterbox-friendly sachets (from £13.50), elegant refillable glass jars (from £30 for two; from £12 per eco-friendly refill of 180 g) or a regular Russell & Atwell subscription (from £50).

Speaking on the BBC, Giles said: ‘We see no reason why we can’t be up to £50m or £100m in a few years… the last corporate job I did I grows the business from £50m to £100m, and we support ourselves to be able to reach those numbers, and more.

Russell & Atwell offered the Dragons 9% of the business for £90,000 investment, saying “30% of the pasta is fresh and it’s a £6.5 billion chocolate market, if the half of that market could be fresh in 20 years. , this is a huge opportunity.

With Giles’ 100-year family history in the chocolate business and their shared experience in global chocolate companies, friends and business partners presented their chilled fresh chocolate concept and detailed their vast experience before opening their fridge. to taste the chocolates.

As the company’s head chocolatier, Steve handed out the chocolates to the Dragons, and the taste immediately plummeted. although Dragon Deborah Meaden noted the current lack of a vegan option.

After an hour and a half of discussing margins, manufacturing and costs, and whether veterans of the business had what it takes to enter the world of entrepreneurship, the new author of Dragon and Happy Sexy Millionaire , Steve Bartlett, made the first offer of £45,000 for 15% of the business to partner with other Dragons to drive the business forward; this sparked an offer from each of the Dragons, with Peter Jones naming Steven Bartlett as an ideal partner to share the investment to expand direct-to-consumer commerce. Steve and Giles walked over to the wall and announced, “We’re too far apart; we don’t want to work for you, we had 30 years of business career, we want to work for ourselves.

It was a tough decision, but eventually Russell & Atwell struck a deal with Steven Bartlett and Peter Jones, offering them 10% of the business each for the total investment of £90,000. With Steven on Huel’s board and co-founder of social media and marketing agency, Social Chain, Steve and Giles were eager to learn from his social and digital expertise. Peter Jones’ experience was an attractive counterpart, with his more traditional knowledge of the high street, which will also be hugely valuable to Russell & Atwell in taking over the business, which currently sells online and through luxury delicatessens. , and in supermarkets across the country.

Giles added: “We’re blown away by five offers. We went into the Maw with an open mind as to who we wanted, but the five offers blew us away and gave us quite a dilemma. In the end, we chose the “dream team of on & off-line – Steven and Peter – and we haven’t looked back since!”

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