Supply chain backlogs and inflationary pressures have taken a toll on consumer-facing brands throughout 2021, but one specialty chocolate company has defied the trend.
Jeff Stoeckel, the CEO of Connecticut-based Bridgewater Chocolate, told the company is able to avoid the disruption thanks to its niche focus, loyal customers and planning in advance.
Supply chain strains spurred the creation, orders and delivery process to be in a “condensed timeline,” he added.
“We started thinking about a little earlier in the year, anticipating some challenges heading into the end of the season,” Stoeckel explained.
He believes loyal customers played an instrumental role in keeping the company away from any impact. “the biggest thing is the the closest relationships we’ve had have allowed us to stay in business and excel during the holiday season,” the CEO said.
Unlike other companies, like Mondelez International (MLDZ) — which is expected to potentially hike prices of its products in the coming years — Stoeckel says the company did not have to pass along any price increases “yet.” He noted the company found it “really important” to keep prices this “holiday season specifically.”
“Those are challenges we’ll tackle definitely next year, but it was really important that we are one more year we hold out and keep delivering the same Bridgewater chocolate that everybody knows at the same price this year,” Stoeckel said.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, Bridgewater Chocolate saw sales increase 30% compared to a year ago. Stoeckel says around this time of year “chocolates are easy thing to buy for the holidays.”
In addition, the company saw its average order value go much higher than previous years with people buying “a lot more chocolate than they normally do” compared to previous holiday seasons.
While online sales contributed to the spike in sales, Stoeckel believes the traditional, retail footprint helped to add in sales, too.
“Unlike the general food service industry…we make it really easy to buy a really beautiful gift and you can come into our stores talk to somebody pretty quickly,” the CEO said. “They’ll guide you in the right direction and you can make your way out so it’s a it’s a very safe shopping experience.”
The company currently operates from its factory store located in Brookfield, Connecticut, along with its Factory Extension Store down the road, and a third location in West Hartford, Connecticut.