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FEATURE


Fox&

Swan Sweets Join the chocolaty revolution...

W

e love sweets. And we love them because they make us happy. Where would we be without them? Down in the dumps, for sure. If that’s the case, Keith Swan and Johan Payne, Port Elizabeth’s very own Willy Wonkas, should be given a medal. They have made it their business to ensure we stay happy (aka, get our sweet fix). Their firm, Fox & Swan Sweets, manufactures a 2

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complete range of sweets, for every kind of sweet tooth. “We make things like choc peanuts, choc raisins, slabs, mint imperials, almonds, pink and white peanuts, salted peanuts, peanuts and raisins,” Swan and Payne say. “We are a family run manufacturing business in Port Elizabeth and we have a factory shop outlet. “Chocolate is our business,” he adds. Fox & Swan are on a quest to find perfect, affordable chocolates and sweets.

Swan bought the company over 20 years ago – it was a small packing business at the time – and ever since he has been fascinated with sweets. It is a labour of love that is taking the business he bought with partner Colin Fox to new heights. 12 years ago, when Fox retired, Johan Payne became Swan’s partner and is now the MD of the company. “Originally we were doing a lot of packaging work for pharmaceutical clients and


Fox & Swan Sweets

food giants like Cadbury,” Swan says. “We decided to stop doing that and launch our own product.” The firm still does some contract packaging on the side, but the focus has shifted to its own brand. “Basically, we have moved over from supplying other people’s brands to developing our own brand products,” Swan says. Their factory, he boasts, now produces “a fine variety of products”. They sell a lot of it locally and unsurprisingly the firm is a big player in the local economy. “Our brand is growing and we’ve introduced, recently, our own chocolate,” Payne continues. “We started making it in September last year. So we are now selling our own chocolate slabs. “On top of that, we manufacture for three other brands.” Fox & Swan produce about 40 tonnes of sweets a

months, 20 tonnes being chocolate. There is room for more and R&D is a major focus. “We are upping the ante, so to speak,” says Swan. “Our objective in the company is to grow our market and expand our reach. Traditionally, our market has been informal and towards the bottom end, to the hawkers. We have marketed through wholesales and direct to the sellers, the shops themselves. “We have put a lot of effort into improving the quality and taste of our products, the chocolate specifically. “Now, we want to step up and introduce a chocolate covered nougat and chocolate covered Turkish Delight. “We have everything in place and the technology to expand. It is a natural progression of developing our usage of the equipment we have. Those two products are higher market products, compared to what we have been manufacturing in the past.” The firm recently bought

Our brand is growing and we’ve introduced, recently, our own chocolate

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Fox & Swan Sweets

the smoothness of the chocolate is amongst the best

a new roller ball chocolate conch machine, he adds. “We brought this conch in from China, and started running it in September 2010,” Swan says. “Before that, we had been involved in manufacturing chocolate for a third-party brand and we were buying back that chocolate for use in our own branded products. We decided that in order to further develop our own brand we needed to start controlling the conch process of our own chocolate. “This will help with our plans - we aim to move into the formal sector. We were selling mainly to hawkers. If we look at that bottom end of the market, it has been seriously 4

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tainted by the loss of about a million jobs over the last 18 months. So we have seen a need to move upmarket and move into the more formal

market areas. “There is a lot of new design going into packaging materials and we are working on creating a brand which is higher than the one we had recently.” Fox & Swan currently runs six lines, and their aim is to have increased market share considerably by year-end. In terms of employees it currently has 70. They are all from the local area. “It is important to us to employ locally,” says Swan. “We have been in the business


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since 1987 and we have built a partnership with the local community and the people in the immediate area. “We provide employment too for about 2,000 hawkers as well who buy direct from us and supply to various small shops and schools and that type of thing. So, we are providing employment for a significant number of selfemployed people. “Is that important to us? I think it is. We are having a big impact on the local economy.” The family run business is a real South African success story. Swan and Payne’s aim is to continue the good work and leave a lasting legacy for future generations of their

there is a lot of new design going into packaging materials and we are working on creating a brand which is higher than the one we had recently

families and employees. “Retirement isn’t so far off for me,” jokes Swan. “In terms of a legacy, I’d like this to be a viable and growing business that continues to contribute to the future of SA in it’s own way. “I think the sense of family we have here has certainly contributed to our success.” The chocolaty dream of this team is to be admired. 90 percent of product is sold in SA, while some is exported to Namibia and Swaziland. “I think in terms of production of chocolate we’ve made quality a priority. The smoothness of the chocolate is amongst the best,” he concludes. END www.southafricamag.com

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Tel: (041) 373-5556 Fax: (041) 374-3755 Email: michelle@foxswan.co.za

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FOX AND SWAN FEATURE  

SA Mag - Issue 13 - FOX AND SWAN FEATURE

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