Gourmet chocolatier CoCouture is investing £160,000 in its workforce and operations in a bid to meet growing demand for premium chocolates in Great Britain, the Republic and the US.
The company is splashing out on new equipment, marketing and recruitment at its new premises at Chichester Street in Belfast city centre.
It aims to recruit four new employees to enable it to develop sales enquiries for existing and planned products.
CoCouture is receiving £30,000 from Invest NI towards its expansion plans.
The investment follows an extensive market testing of luxury chocolates and chocolate bars carried out by the company since its formation by Deirdre McCanny, a trained chef, in March 2008.
Ms McCanny, who is working at full capacity to meet orders, said: “The investment will give me additional production capacity and enable me to develop marketing activities and exploit new approaches from specialist outlets in the US interested in listing the chocolates.
“Feedback from customers has also suggested new products for niche sectors within the premium chocolate market,” she said.
“Invest NI’s encouragement and very practical support for my enterprise — particularly in terms of marketing activities, including guidance on the development of an e-commerce site — have been extremely important.”
Invest NI food director Maynard Mawhinney added: “This is an entrepreneurial and award winning business which has proven that a significant market opportunity exists for its initial range of chocolates particularly in markets outside Northern Ireland.
“Our support will also encourage this ambitious SME to push ahead with plans for new product development and is in line with our focus on raising the level of innovation within the food industry,” he added.