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Based in Cumbria, Friars started making its own brand of premium chocolates by hand last year, after nearly 100 years of retailing confectionery products. 

Now to meet increasing demand and to accelerate growth, the third-generation family business is automating the labour intensive element of its production line while retaining handcrafted features for its products. 

The £100,000 investment will enable Friars to increase its output from 30kg per day to 250kg – an increase of 733% – with significant scope to scale up production.

Three times cheaper to produce

Automation would make it almost three times cheaper to produce the same amount and maintain a consistent quality, the company has confirmed. 

The business also plans to invest £750,000 in a new factory and distribution centre near to the motorway in Penrith. 

Friars has been supported by the Made Smarter North West Adoption programme. For the past two years the initiative has providing advice, expertise and financial support to 1,200 producers across the region.

Increase competitiveness, reduce inefficiencies

The assistance has helped them grow their business, increase competitiveness and reduce inefficiencies through digital tools and technology. 

Managing director Michael Webster, who runs the business with his brother Richard, said: “Our ambition is to become one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of quality chocolates, but in order to do this we need to look to technology to enable us to scale up our operation while producing the highest quality possible. 

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