Sweet news for jobs as Aunty Nellie's plans huge expansion
IRISH entrepreneur David Jordan is planning to almost triple the size of his Aunty Nellie's sweetshop chain to 33 outlets within 12 months with a multi-million euro expansion plan that is likely to create 84 jobs.
The former hotel industry manager started his business 13 months ago and has been opening up new units at the rate of almost one a month. The chain employs 50 staff.
He now has 11 shops in key locations throughout Ireland, six of them franchised, including one in Temple Bar, Dublin.
As well as opening a further 12 shops in towns throughout the nation over the next year, he is also planning to break into the North and is on the lookout for someone to take on a franchise with a view to opening a further 10 shops there.
Mr Jordan, a former operations manager with the Morrisson Hotel, left the sector with the intention of setting up a chain of artisan shops. However, the recession put paid to those plans.
Seeking a business which would appeal to all budgets and ages, he hit on the idea of a chain of shops selling retro sweets and traditional confectionery sold loose from jars.
The chain sells traditional boiled sweets such as bullseyes and clove rock but also 'penny sweets' from the 1970s and 1980s.
It also stocks classic sweets from abroad that are not otherwise available in Ireland.
About 60pc of the sweets Mr Jordan sells are made by traditional and new manufacturers based all over the country.
The firm has linked into the corporate entertainment and wedding sector with its "sweet buffets" and has plans to link up with Weddings By Franc.
"With retro sweets you appeal to all budgets, from 10c to €20, and to all ages from two-year-olds up to grannies and grandads. We like to think we're selling a service and an experience rather than just clove rock."
In the longer run, Mr Jordan is also planning to break into the US market.
"America is very much a candy oriented market so we'd have to tweak our formula if we want to sell them loose sweets.
"There is also the difference between European and American food laws to contend with. Ireland only has room for one retro sweet shop per town and we're not going to open up where competition already exists, so expanding outside this island will be a necessary step."
In the meantime, Mr Jordan invites submissions from potential franchisees interested in opening in middle-to-large Irish towns. The retro sweet shop concept has also exploded in the UK where the Mr Simms franchise has dominated.