James Cadbury gains Dragons’ Den funding but turns down potential investment

Confectionery entrepreneur James Cadbury, the great-great-great grandson of John Cadbury, successfully gained investment for his Love Cocoa company appearing on the BBC Dragons’ Den television series this Christmas.

However, in a dramatic twist to the story, the 33 year-old chocolatier, who was given two offers for £75,000 funding – from Peter Jones and Tej Lalvani, opted not to take up the opportunity and forge ahead with developing the business himself.

Love Cocoa was set up by Cadbury in 2016 after he left his job as a city trader to pursue his business dream, following in his family’s footsteps. His luxury handmade chocolate brand reinvents British favourites with contemporary twists, (including gin and tonic, Earl Grey and english mint) delivered to customers on a next-day basis.

Cadbury was in the den asking the Dragons for £75k for a 5% share of the business. The money was to be invested in two key areas of the business: developing new products including those using online personalisation, and expanding the Love Cocoa team.

The deal with Tej Lalvani saw Cadbury twice think about his options before finally accepting £75k for a 15% share. However, following a series of lengthy discussions and having met Lalvani several times after the episode was filmed, Cadbury has since decided to go it alone.

Love Cocoa received an unanimously positive response from the Dragons who all praised the quality of the chocolate and the brand’s ethical and sustainable credentials (10% of profits go to the Rainforest Foundation). Viewers also saw an open and frank discussion about previous investment in the brand.

Reflecting on his appearance, Cadbury said: “It was a tough process that was also incredibly nerve-wracking; I felt the pressure of having to uphold the family name. To be invited onto the show was an amazing experience both in terms of the potential investment and exposure, but the final deal was not quite what I wanted. Tej is a great entrepreneur and a true gentleman; he completely understood and we left on good terms.”

Since filming in May 2018, Love Cocoa has seen substantial growth driven by new stockists such as John Lewis coming on board, as well as a focus on exports, which now account for 30% of the business’s revenue. With turnover upwards of £700,000 and the brand due to launch in Paperchase and Ocado in the new year, the future looks bright for the Cadbury heir.

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