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Marks & Spencer to sell small business’s chocolate after it was accused of copying

The retailer has been accused of copying a Valentine’s Day gift

Saman Javed
Tuesday 25 January 2022 09:10 GMT
Marks & Spencer was accused of copying Choc on Choc’s product
Marks & Spencer was accused of copying Choc on Choc’s product (Choc on Choc)

Marks & Spencer has agreed to stock handmade chocolate from a small family-run business based in Somerset after its owners accused the retailer of copying one of its products.

In a post to Instagram this week, Flo Broughton, a co-founder of Choc and Choc, said she was “absolutely fuming” after seeing the supermarket’s chocolate range for Valentine’s Day.

Choc on Choc has been selling “Perfect Match” chocolates as part of its Valentine’s collection since 2015. The gift is comprised of a matchbox filled with two “giant matchsticks” made of white Belgian chocolate.

Broughton spotted a “similar design” in Marks & Spencer this weekend, named “You’re My Perfect Match”.

“These matches look very similar to matches I make,” she said, adding that people who visit the supermarket may believe she copied its product.

Marks & Spencer has been accused of copying Choc on Choc’s product
Marks & Spencer has been accused of copying Choc on Choc’s product (Marks & Spencer)

“I love that I am an inspiration to these people, but it’s really frustrating when you’re a small business like I am, and you spend all your time and money building your brand and then these big people come along and steal your ideas,” she said.

Broughton also posted side-by-side comparisons of both chocolate offerings. Describing Marks & Spencer’s product as “the perfect copy”, she called on social media users to share the post.

“Anyone else who has ever had their work copied, get on board. I want to make a proper stand on this. Share this post and raise awareness for us so these big brands can’t get away with copying,” she wrote.

In an update on Sunday, 23 January, Broughton said she had been contacted by Marks & Spencer and that the retailer has agreed to stock Choc on Choc’s “Perfect Match” chocolates.

Under the agreement, Marks & Spencer will continue to sell its “You’re My Perfect Match” chocolates this Valentine’s Day, before introducing Broughton’s product ahead of Mother’s Day.

Broughton said the retailer’s directors had been “very respectful” of Choc on Choc’s business, telling her that “innovations like yours should be rewarded”.

“The current stock of matches shouldn’t go to landfill so we have agreed these will stay on shelf and then ours will also be launched as a limited edition of our perfect match!” she said.

She also revealed that the retailer has agreed to hear pitches from small businesses for products to be sold in its stores as part of its Small Supplier Programme.

“I’m almost bursting with pride we got to this stage, that they were willing to listen and as they clearly said, ‘do the right thing’.

“I really hope that this can pave a way forward to open doors for small businesses across all big retailers and I will fight for this all I can,” Broughton added.

A spokesperson for Marks & Spencer told the Independent: “We take IP very seriously and when we saw Choc on Choc’s social media posts we immediately got in touch.

“Choc on Choc is a fantastic company producing quality chocolates and we’re delighted to be working with them through our Small Supplier Programme going forwards.”

Marks & Spencer is currently embroiled in two legal disputes with Aldi, accusing the discount supermarket of copying its famous “Colin The Caterpillar” cake, and most recently, its Christmas-themed gin.

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