Easter egg maker Waikato Valley Chocolates opens new factory in Horotiu
The factory that makes your Easter eggs just got a whole lot nicer.
Waikato Valley Chocolates, which makes some 3.5 million Easter eggs each year for the Warehouse, has opened a new 3200 square metre factory in Horotiu.
The factory is a joint venture with The Warehouse Group, and part of a plan to increase turnover by 20 per cent and export to Australia.
Director Mike Razey said the new factory increased production capacity, but it would not immediately translate into new jobs.
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“There will be more jobs, our business will grow. We’re at the momentum stage where we look to the next level.”
Waikato Valley Chocolates produces the majority of chocolate eggs, under licence for brands such as Disney, sold at the Warehouse over Easter. Chocolate coated nuts and dried fruit are also sold through the store.
Except for the smallest eggs, each chocolate egg is hand wrapped in tinfoil. The factory employs 45 staff and runs 24 hours a day, five days a week.
The old factory on Borham Rd was past its used by date and sat in the path of the incoming Waikato Expressway, Razey said.
"We could just not continue, there was just not enough room … it was really difficult to be efficient."
He said there had been no conversations with Mondelez International, which is closing Dunedin's Cadbury Factory, about taking on the production of Jaffas.
"If that opportunity arose we would definitely look to make it."
Waikato River Valley doesn't make starch based products, so could not produce Pineapple Lumps.
Warehouse founder Sir Stephen Tindall compared the company's success to that of Team New Zealand, which he financially backed in its successful America's Cup campaign.
"Quite often, during the ups and downs of businesses, you could easily pull the pin.
"But, the story is one of resilience, believing in people, giving them the ability to deliver, and hanging in with them. It really does pay off, and that's what's happened with this place."
Richard Eng, who has worked on the factory floor for over 25 years, said good management and flexible working hours kept him around.
“I’ve been working here for so long because I eat chocolate for free, and I eat a lot of them," he said.
The peanut clusters were his favourite product, "I just eat, and eat, and eat them".