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Yankee doodle candy
A YOUNG entrepreneur who has seen his American sweetshop business go from strength to strength is targeting further and growth in 2014.
Ian Philpott opened Yankee Doodle Candy in May 2012 after realising the demand for American brands such as Oreos, Hersheys, Jelly Belly and Twinkies was on the rise and there was no one place to buy them in the North-East.
And after a trip to London where he discovered specialist sweetshops were commonplace, he decided to take the plunge and opened up his first Yankee Doodle Candy shop at the Metro Centre in Gateshead.
Another at Eldon Square in Newcastle quickly followed and after seeing turnover in both stores steadily increase, the 33-year-old from Castle Eden, County Durham is now in the market for other prime locations to expand, both regionally and further afield.
Ian, who is married with two children, said: "I felt there was a real gap in the market waiting to be filled.
"So I started developing a business plan and researching products, stockists and potential locations. I found the ideal premises at the Metro Centre but I was so cautious as I had no idea whether it would work so I initially committed to a year's lease just in case.
"But at the same time I've always believed that if you're going to do something, do it properly and I wanted the shop to look the business so I really invested in kitting it out in the best way possible so it was attractive to customers. And obviously that paid off as it really took off and within months I opened a second store at Eldon Square."
After opening the business and running it with his wife Leanne, Ian now employs 20 people including two apprentices and plans to double his workforce on 2014.
And he is now actively looking for premises to open a third Yankee Doodle Candy shop in the region and is exploring the possibility of taking it nationally, possible as a franchise.
Ian sources all his products from America and earlier this year went across to the industry's leading Expo event in Chicago to meet suppliers and see what new products were expected to be the next big thing.
He added: "The challenge for me now is to ensure that growth continues so I'm now looking at other suitable locations to expand the business. I've earmarked Durham as a potential but I'm certainly keeping my options open. I'm also looking into the possibility of expanding nationally and whether Yankee Doodle Candy could become a franchise.
"The main thing is I don't rest on my laurels. I know who my competitors are and it's down to me to ensure I stay ahead of them."
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