Belfast Telegraph

Sweet success as Chocolate clothes shop bucks trend with award nomination

By Clare Weir

An award-winning Londonderry clothes store has been shortlisted for another top UK accolade.

At a time when multi-national chains dominate Northern Ireland's high streets, Chocolate on Foyle Street, which was founded in 2007 by brothers Barry and David Conaghan, has bucked the trend over the past few years, growing considerably despite the economic climate.

Harking back to the time when the north west of Ireland was a world leader in the textile market, the shop has expanded online, exports to over 40 different countries worldwide and adds an estimated 10 new brands per year.

The company has now been shortlisted for an award in London in February by Drapers, a UK fashion trade magazine.

Chocolate is the only store in Ireland north or south to be included in the nominees for the Top Inspiring UK Independent Clothing Stores 2012 awards.

The firm also won an award at the Enterprising Derry awards last November for best export potential and last October David Conaghan was shortlisted for the final eight of Northern Ireland's Young Entrepreneur of the year awards.

Mr Conaghan said that embracing social media and online marketing has helped strengthen growth.

"We have built up a very strong reputation in such a short space of time, and we do not plan to slow down anytime soon," he said.

"In spite of the tough economic times, 2011 has been our best year to date with sales up 40%. We re-launched our webstore in March 2011 with huge success and it has now made our company into a global firm."

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