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Mon 9 Jun 2008 04:00 AM

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High-end boom for chocolate businesses

Demand for luxury products has hit an all-time high, indicated by the arrival of Confiserie Sprungli.

Buoyant sales and increasingly discerning taste profiles in the Middle East have spurred regional players to expand and enticed global players to enter the premium confectionery category.

Creator of the finest chocolate specialities in the world since 1836, Zurich-based Confiserie Sprungli has opened an office in Dubai, with plans to expand across the GCC, revealed its managing director for the Middle East Ester Crameri.

Billed as the ‘private bankers' of the sector, its exclusive products will be available by appointment or online. The company currently operates 17 stores across Switzerland.

According to CEO Tomas Prenosil Sprungli, its "interest abroad is to cooperate with carefully selected and exclusive clients such as the Royal families, corporate clients and various select individuals," backed by the promotion of its attention to detail and its use of high quality ingredients and natural colourings for the products, which can be customised for consumers to suit any special occasions.

"No additives are used to prolong the shelf life of the products, as that would compromise the quality, freshness and flavour. This is the reason why you will never see Sprungli shops outside of Switzerland.

Sprungli's portfolio spans more than 1700 handmade products, ranging from pralines and its world-famous truffles to biscuits, sweet and savoury pastries, cakes, ice creams and sandwiches.

To facilitate its growth drive in the market, the firm has developed close links with international courier services and airlines to ensure delivery to any destination within 48 hours.

FHK General Trading has joined forces with American gourmet cocoa emporium chain Alison Nelson's Chocolate Bar to launch 10 stores in India and Pakistan. The company has garnered acclaim across New York for its wrappers and flatware, designed by iconic artists in the city.

HFK Trading CEO Hassan Khan said the concept boutiques would fill a niche in the confectionery market. "India and Pakistan are virgin soil for unique, high-end food concepts.

Alison Nelson's Chocolate Bar is an amazing brand and a unique concept that offers us not only a chocolate café, but also a fresh, vibrant blend of fashion and art."

The company's main branch is located in Dubai, and the partnership will be its first foray into consumer luxury goods. Its chief interests are real estate and trade in food items including sugar, rice and lentils with clients in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

"After establishing ourselves on the industrial side, and to capitalise on our real estate strength, one of our objectives for 2008 was to expand and have direct contact with our consumers.

Chocolate Bar was first launched in 2002 with an initial investment of US $75,000, and the brand has demonstrated the ingredient's versatility at upscale stores including its own brand of cocoa-based beauty products.

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