A popular east Belfast sweet-maker and chocolatier has invested significantly to expand its premises and production facilities and increase its workforce, with support from Ulster Bank.
Aunt Sandra’s, which has been in business since 1953, has invested over £300,000 in the purchase and renovation of a new purpose-built production facility and shop, occupying five previously derelict business units on the Castlereagh Road in Belfast.
The expansion will create a further six jobs adding to the 10 already employed by the business. The vacancies include a mix of retail, supervisory and skilled confectionery production roles.
Known widely for its traditional methods, Aunt Sandra’s supplies a growing range of sweets, chocolate and other confectionery products for both consumer and trade.
The business is part-owned by brothers David and Jim Moore with support from Jim’s son and General Manager Michael Moore.
The expansion, which has been over three years in the making, marks a new chapter for the family-owned business as it prepares to enter the ROI market and increase its production capacity to meet growing demand for its handmade confectionery.
To meet such demand, it has purchased four additional boilers and developed a dedicated area earmarked specifically for increasing honeycomb production, a product Jim explains has seen huge resurgence in recent years.
“Honeycomb has long accompanied ice cream. Throughout our 60-year history we have manufactured and supplied wholesale honeycomb to the ice cream industry.
“In recent years the surge in popularity for gin and gin-based drinks has also contributed to huge growth in honeycomb production which is why this is an area of the business we’re focused on developing further.
“Our new boilers will allow us to increase output to meet this growing demand. We also hope to begin supplying our product to the ROI market in the near future as we continue to work with a number of producers.”
As well as larger production facilities, the new premises also include a modern shop front, coffee house and private hire area for functions, corporate events and shows.
Jim added that while Aunt Sandra’s enters a new chapter in its history, it will continue to provide all the charm its customers remember and return for.
“The next chapter for Aunt Sandra’s focuses on growing the manufacturing and wholesale side of the business, but we will continue to share a little taste of tradition, nostalgia and fun, all things which have played an important part in the Aunt Sandra’s story so far.”
Keith Thompson, Business Development Manager at Ulster Bank, said: “Aunt Sandra’s is one of the best examples of pairing quality, handmade products – made using traditional methods – and personable service.
“With roots in east Belfast for over 60 years, Ulster Bank is pleased to support the business to usher in a new era and introduce its exceptional range of confectionery to a wider public.”
Aunt Sandra’s growing customer base includes well-known ice cream brands such as Morelli, Glastry Farm, Riada, Draynes and more.
It also supplies major tourist attractions across Northern Ireland including Visit Belfast, National Museums Northern Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast, Titanic Belfast, Giants Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede and more.