Thieves have made off with £50,000 of luxury chocolate and sweets in a raid a Harrogate warehouse.
The thieves struck at Simply Sweets and Confection by Design last weekend, plundering as many as 300,000 bags and boxes of chocolate truffles, boiled sweets and nostalgic treats.
The luxury goods were bound for upmarket and independent retailers including Harrods and Fodder and, says the company owner, the theft couldn’t have come at a worst time.
“We’re desperately disappointed,” said owner Rob Whitehead. “For a small business like us, £50,000 is a huge amount - certainly more than our annual profit.
“But this is our busiest time of year. The biggest disappointment is that we might have to let people down.”
Confection by Design and The Serious Sweet Company, part of the Zubrance group, is run at Hornbeam Park in Harrogate and sells brands including Ultimate English and Ultimate Collection.
A huge part of the business is supplying nostalgic treats for retailers and Christmas hampers, with hundreds of orders ready last week to be shipped out for the festive season.
There were pallets stacked with goodies including boiled sweets, toffees, coconut ices, nougat and nut brittles, as well as the group’s prized saltwater chocolate truffles.
But the company’s hopes for a bumper Christmas boost have now dashed by the thieves’ actions, with vast quantities of stock and raw materials now missing or damaged in the raid.
“The stock was ready for delivery in time for the Christmas rush,” said Mr Whitehead. “They even used our own fork lift truck to load it. It’s very frustrating and disappointing.”
The team is now working flat out to try and replenish stock, and they are determined not to let the actions of the thieves stand in the way of meeting their orders.
“We have a great team of people,” said Mr Whitehead. “When we get knocked down, we always get back up again. That’s what we are going to do.”
The company is now appealing for the public’s help in tracking the missing goodies, asking that they keep an eye out for treats sold in unusual circumstances.
It has even launched a hashtag - #FindOurFudge - as it takes to Twitter to call for support.
It is believed the thieves struck some time between 4.45pm on Saturday, November 1, and 6am the following day, using a large lorry to transport the goods.
Anyone with information is asked to call Harrogate CID on 101.