Small Business Saturday Blog

Hitting the sweet spot in Bucks and Oxon

Tuesday, November 21, 2023 at 06:30

Rumsey's is a family-owned artisan chocolate company which produces award-winning hand-made chocolate, alongside running two chocolateries in the market towns of Wendover in Buckinghamshire and Thame in Oxfordshire. From exquisite boxes of hand-made, hand-wrapped chocolates, to bespoke commissions for individual and corporate clients, they only use the finest, ethically sourced (and, where possible, local) ingredients to make the best products they can.
Their story began in 2001, when Nigel Rumsey began making handmade chocolates from his home kitchen. His aim was to produce top quality products from the finest ingredients. Three years later, Nigel and his wife Mary opened their first chocolaterie in Wendover, followed by another in Thame in 2007. In 2016, their daughter-in-law, Kate, joined the family business, and successfully navigated Mary and Nigel’s retirement in 2022.
Despite the current economic climate, the company has flourished under Kate’s leadership. Rumsey’s now employs 50 people, and makes over 200,000 chocolates per year by hand, with a turnover of over £1m. They have a rapidly growing presence online, and have recently expanded their Production and Fulfilment departments in order to meet demand.
Owner Kate Rumsey told us, “We offer a bespoke, personalised service, and are particularly focussing on growing our corporate gifting clients and our place within the wholesale market. We are also growing sales and our brand more nationally through investment online and in social media.”
The Rumsey’s chocolateries are a much-loved feature of their local high streets, with strong links to their communities. Kate told us, “Working alongside other small, independent companies is something we consciously do. Even with increasing costs, we always make decisions to work with businesses who align to our family values – many suppliers have been with us since the early days of Rumsey’s”.
Their dairy is sourced from a local farm, and their coffee comes from a small, family run roastery on the south coast. Though not local, they are passionate about the sustainability of their cocoa and supporting the farmers who grow it, often in some of the poorest regions in the world.
They are also proud to work with their town councils on initiatives to drive footfall and mentor other small businesses locally. The American Express Shop Small campaign also helps with this. Kate told us, “Shop Small is a brilliant initiative, which not only ‘talks the talk’ but financially motivates customers to spend with us, as they literally get something back in return. We’ve accepted American Express for many years and regularly see an increase in spend during the Shop Small period. Customers talk to us about it extremely positively.”
As an independent, family business, Rumsey’s is committed to a long-term view. Above all, they aim to ensure that they always do what is right for the future of the business, so that they leave Rumsey’s in a good place for the next generation. They are constantly working on removing all plastic from their chocolateries, and all recent packaging is 100% recyclable. They offer discounts for customers who bring in their own cups, and wherever possible use locally grown ingredients – including some from their own gardens and allotments – to reduce their carbon footprint.
Their hard work has certainly paid off: they were the proud winners of Buckinghamshire Business Awards Family Business of the Year 2021, finalists in the Oxfordshire Business Awards Retail Award 2022 and Small Awards 2023, and recipients of a Highly Commended in the Great British Food Awards 2021.
Last word goes to Kate, who told us, “We are committed to ensuring our two chocolateries continue to thrive for another 20 years on the high street. We aim to make chocolate special.”
Visit Rumsey’s at The Old Bank, 26 High Street, Wendover HP22 6EA or 8 Upper High Street, Thame OX9 3ER, or shop online here. Click here to find out more about the American Express Shop Small campaign.


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