Praise from the Queen highlights Gloucestershire firm's importance to chocolate making

A Queen’s Award for Forest of Dean firm DPS Designs reveals how important the Gloucestershire engineering business is to the world’s chocolate industry.

By Andrew Merrell  |  Published

A belated Queen’s Award for Enterprise has highlighted the importance of a Forest of Dean engineering firm to the world’s chocolate industry.

Coleford-based DPS Designs is a company as likely to be in demand from the aerospace, healthcare and automotive sectors across the globe for its design and toolmaking skills as it is from M&S, Aldi, Fortnum & Mason and Harrods for its abilities helping create chocolate treats.

It currently makes the moulds for an estimated 80 per cent of all the new hollow chocolates you see at Christmas, Easter or any other time of year – both in the UK and increasingly abroad.

In recognition of its growing overseas markets on both sides of its business it won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2020, an award delayed due to the pandemic and finally presented to the firm in November 2021.

Viv Hargreaves, Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Gloucestershire, said: ‘This Forest of Dean family firm has demonstrated great innovation. It is a truly inspirational enterprise.’

Sebastian Down, a director of Coleford-headquartered DPS, said: ‘The Queen’s Award is something we are extremely proud of. We won it for the last three years of export growth, but really it has been 25 years in the making.

‘It is a seal of approval which will be a springboard to even more growth.’

That growth has been supported by £1 million of investment in the business made since the start of the pandemic, which has also helped it increase staff numbers from 32 to 40 and drive turnover towards £2.5 million.

It was Sebastian’s father, Leigh Down, who founded the family firm with his wife Nicki and turned former competitors into customers when they jumped from making chocolate to making moulds.

Christmas, as you might expect for a firm which works closely with retailers to design and make chocolate creations, is a busy time of year – but it’s not this Christmas the company is focused on.

‘We are currently working on Christmas 2022 and have just signed off concepts for Easter 2023,’ said Down.

By Andrew Merrell

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