I remember as a child going into the local corner shop and wondering at all the glass jars filled with sweets of every imaginable colour and flavour and thinking how many I could buy for my pocket money!

Sadly for many of us, those days of buying sweets out of those seemingly dozens of jars have gone, to be replaced by pre-packed bags of sweets, often with odd-sounding names. Now, however, a confectionery company in Belfast is looking to bring back those halcyon childhood days by offering once more an extensive range of sweets in jars.

W J Shaw & Sons is a family-owned confectionery business that will celebrate its 135th birthday in 2012, but it is the recent changes that have given this company a new lease of life. Managing director Kevin Holland explains, “Six years ago, together with two colleagues, I bought into this company as we believed that it had a tremendous, if unfilled, potential. At that time, the company sold only into the wholesale market. One of the first things that we did was to put a van sales force on the road to tackle the retail market.”

Shaw’s have traditionally offered a range of ‘impulse’ bags of confectionery, branded as either Shaws ‘In The Bag’ or Rafflers. Flavours include traditional Northern Ireland favourites such as ‘Clove Rock’, ‘Cinnamon Lozenges’ and ‘Brandy Balls’. Another interesting approach has been the ‘Sweet Street’ brand where Shaw’s has created a little bit of theatre around kids confectionery – with a range of ‘3 for £1’ bags and an extensive range of branded novelty kids products including Barretts, Swizzels, Topps, Millions, Zed Candy and Chewits amongst others. They are constantly seeking new and novel lines to complement their existing portfolio.

However, one of the more exciting ranges is the traditional style jars of sweets. Retro sweets have had a massive resurgence in the last few years, and sales of jars have grown accordingly. The old style sweetie shops are new re-opening on the high street again and Shaws have extended their range of jars to over 100 lines to accommodate the demand!.

Kevin concludes, “Today we have an experienced team of staff, an extensive packing and warehousing facility, and a fleet of vans on the road distributing to both wholesale and retail. As a result we have almost doubled sales in the last six years. We are well established in Northern Ireland and over the next four or five years will be aiming to develop sales in Southern Ireland and in the UK. We regard ourselves as a one-stop shop for confectionery and by helping the smaller retailers stock range of jars, we are giving them a unique selling advantage over the supermarkets.”

For further information please telephone 02890 458877

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