2020 has been a strange, unpredictable year to say the least. As the New Year draws in, we spoke to founder Max and reflected on the year for Bullion.
What was your goal for the year?
“I was very excited at the thought of expanding our product range. We had just introduced our Fine Milk at the end of 2019, which was our fourth ever chocolate bar so I knew this was something I was keen to develop and showcase to our customers.
I also wanted to release a chocolate liqueur; We had just done our collaboration with Locksley and I was aiming to create something that would sit well in our Espresso Martinis, as they are a very popular product in our café.
I felt that opening another pop-up outlet would be a great opportunity for Bullion; whether it be a bake or chocolate shop, but I just knew I wanted to work towards getting another outlet for the business.
We had just done a really successful one in John Lewis Sheffield, and so for 2020, I wanted to make sure we hosted another pop-up shop. I put our name down to host one at Sheffield Hallam University as they have a space near the train station, but unfortunately due to the COVID-19 restrictions, this couldn't go ahead. But our good friends at Steam Yard let us borrow some of their space for a Bullion Christmas pop-up shop which was great!
Over 2019, I had been heavily focused on our cafe/hospitality side of the business and I knew that coming into 2020, I wanted to go back to basics and focus on our core products and developing a new product range.
I realised I was focusing on maintaining what we had instead of growing, but in 2020 I wanted to change that. I knew the importance of focusing on our products and making them readily available so more people could enjoy Bullion. The restrictions forced us to advance our online shop, which has played a pivotal role in supporting the business during this tricky year.
Looking back now, yes, Covid and national lockdown presented some of the most challenging times our business has ever faced. But it's also been one of the biggest years for the development of the product side of Bullion - which we were forced to maximise and pivot in response to the pandemic. Going forward I can only see this ultimately strengthening our business when we can re-open our retail and hospitality sites.
What was your biggest achievement of the year?
“It‘s hard to put my finger on a specific moment, there have been a lot of ups and downs - it’s been a real rollercoaster of a year. There have been a lot of things that have happened, good and bad, because of Coronavirus. We’ve been forced to adapt to a new normal.
One things for certain, if it wasn't for the continued support of our customers we would have been in a real tough spot. Whether it was purchasing from us, or telling a friend about our products - they've always been in our corner. And that's something I'll forever be thankful for.
Once we get back to normality, we’re going to have a to manage a lot of projects in addition to what we had pre-coronavirus. Before Coronavirus, we didn’t do Easter Eggs, Advent Calendars, or 250g hot chocolate pouches. When we’re able to open the café again, it will be another outlet for our new range of products, which is something to look forward to!
I think our main achievement is the fact the team has really pulled together and worked their socks off, pushing us to adapt and survive in this time of uncertainty.”
What’s been your personal favourite product of the year?
“That’s a hard question. All the products we have done excite me, otherwise we wouldn’t have done them.
I would say it has been enjoyable developing our products that aren’t directly chocolate products. I really like our candle, as it repurposed our husks, which is a great way incorporate this byproduct into a new form and to reduce waste. It’s a really lovely smelling candle and it is a way of experiencing chocolate without the calories!
I can’t wait to see where the spirit goes because it’s such a good product. It is like a liquid version of our chocolate as it's made out of the same ingredients, unrefined cane sugar and cocoa nib. From the café and the couple of years that we have been in the hospitality game, the Espresso Martini has been a big seller for us. So now to be able to do a drink that is completely customised and unique to us is very exciting. I can’t wait to see where we take this product.”
What can we expect for next year for Bullion?
“At the moment, we have to be product focused as that’s our only stream of revenue. We’re having to take it month by month. The upcoming months, we have Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day; so we’re already looking at these dates and planning how we can create exciting products for these events.
If 2020 is anything to go by, we know there is a lot of uncertainty. So if our café and retailers can’t open, we still have our products which can be sold on our online shop. Our website has really been our lifeline this year.
Moving into 2021, we’re certainly going to continue being product focused, developing our offering and looking into ways of engaging our customers. Also, we’re hoping to get the hospitality side of our business back as we're missing everyone's lovely faces”