Friars started life as a cafe and catering business in 1927 before fully moving into retail in the 1970s with two shops in Keswick and Ambleside selling confectionery and giftware.
Over the last 30 years it has built a reputation as a chocolatier, sourcing a huge variety of premium products from the UK and Europe and selling through its website and shops.
In 2020 after struggling to find a reliable source of vegan chocolates, Friars began making their own.
Michael explained: “The market was there, but the lack of availability was hindering sales growth, so we recruited a reputable chocolatier and invested in some machinery to start manufacturing.”
Friars now has three chocolatiers producing up to 30kg of chocolates a day, 6,000kg annually, using an entirely manual process. However, scaling up production has become a challenge.
“Due to the handmade nature of the product, it is not efficient and not economically viable to scale it using the same methods and techniques.
“Without a consistent supply of quality chocolates manufactured by ourselves, we’re unlikely to realise our ambitions.”
Friars has already seen the impact of technology on the business. Replacing its paper-based system with a cloud-based EPOS integrated with other business operations gave Michael and the team real-time visibility and helped them to spot sales trends, errors and wastage.