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Dragons’ Den: Steven Bartlett and Peter Jones invest in chocolate maker Russell & Atwell

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A pair of entrepreneurs who make fresh chocolates have secured new investment on hit BBC show Dragons’ Den.

Steve Russell and Giles Atwell won the backing from Dragons Steven Bartlett and Peter Jones on tonight’s show after receiving offers from all five members of the famous panel.

The pair’s eponymous Birmingham company Russell & Atwell was set up in 2020 and now operates from a dedicated kitchen in Stirchley where they make five different flavors.

At present, they sell online and via selected delis but they now hope that having Dragons Steven Bartlett and Peter Jones on board will help them push their products into mainstream supermarkets.

Mr Russell is the chocolatier while Mr Atwell, whose family has worked in the chocolate industry for 100 years, specializes in sales and marketing and the pair have 30 years of industry experience between them, having previously worked at Green & Blacks, Cadbury, Mars and Godiva where they met.



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They initially offered the Dragons’ Den panel a nine per cent stake in the business in exchange for a ¬£ 90,000 investment.

After receiving positive feedback and offers from all five of the Dragons, they agreed on a deal for all the money in exchange for a ten percent stake each for Mr Bartlett and Mr Jones.

Mr Russell and Mr Atwell said they felt the pair offered an excellent combination of social media, online and traditional high street knowledge and experience.

One of panellists, Deborah Meaden, is a vegan so was unable to sample the chocolates but it did open up a discussion surrounding possible dairy-free varieties in the future.

The episode was filmed in June so the entrepreneurs had the added challenge of getting the chocolate ready for scrutiny on a summer’s day in a hot studio.

Mr Atwell said: “We were pretty nervous about going on Dragons’ Den after less than nine months of trading but we hoped Steve’s chocolates would win them over.

“I wanted us to just enjoy the ride, we had nothing to lose and set about it with an attitude that we could walk away if the deal wasn’t right. I think that helped ease the pressure.

“We came into the Den open minded as to who we wanted but the five offers blew us away and gave us quite a dilemma. In the end, we chose the dream team of online and offline – Steven and Peter – and we have not looked back since. “

Russell & Atwell’s central ethos is that its products are made with fresh ingredients, are kept in the fridge rather than the cupboard and have a much shorter lifespan than traditional ‘long-life’ chocolate.

The recipes do not use palm oil, artificial colors or preservatives and are made with fresh organic cream.



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Mr Atwell added: “The ‘long-life’ chocolate bar was invented at the start of the 20th century but most homes have had fridges since the 1950s so, while fresh milk, pasta and desserts have all migrated over into the fridge, chocolate has been left quite literally on the shelf.

“It’s high time that fresh chocolate became the go-to standard for quality, simplicity of ingredients and indulgence.”

Mr Jones said: “I’m a bit of a chocoholic and I’ve seen a lot of chocolate businesses come through the Den but nothing tasted like Russell & Atwell.

“It seems so obvious that fresh tastes best but to experience their chocolates fresh from the fridge was in a different league – I had to invest.”

Mr Bartlett added: “Chocolate is my ultimate guilty pleasure‚Ķ .The product is already incredible and has a strong unique selling point so I knew with a little guidance and marketing we could really make it explode.”

The company has also welcomed Nick Bunker as non-executive chairman, bringing experience from roles with Cadbury UK and KP Snacks where he was chief executive.

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