Bitter end to chocolate dream?

Craft chocolate maker Ocho is seeking voluntary liquidation with the probable loss of 11 jobs as it faces a grim financial outlook.  

Ocho started in 2013 as a small craft chocolate company before being relaunched on the back of a $2 million crowdfunding campaign led by Jim O'Malley following the news Dunedin's Cadbury factory would close in 2017.

It has since struggled with profitability despite another crowdfunding campaign.

The company's board said staff and shareholders had been told today the company was "unable to trade out of its current financial situation and has no prospect of achieving future profitability under the current business model".

Jim O'Malley celebrates the successful 2017 Ocho crowdfunding campaign. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Jim O'Malley celebrates the successful 2017 Ocho crowdfunding campaign. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
A meeting on June 26 would consider a resolution to appoint a liquidator, the board said in a statement.

Ocho board chairman Peter Lead said the company was solvent and could continue to trade "for a short period of time".

The board hoped that winding up the company would allow the business to be sold as a going concern.

Photo: ODT Files
Photo: ODT Files
“The best outcome for shareholders would be that the Ocho brand and its assets are bought by someone with a passion for craft chocolate and a desire to see chocolate making continue in Dunedin, although this is not guaranteed.”

The decision had not been taken lightly and Ocho's 11 staff would continue to be paid until a liquidator was appointed.

Ocho founder Liz Rowe said in the statement she was sad to hear of the board’s decision.

 “The crowd funding in 2017 and the support from so many people who bought shares in Ocho was exciting and humbling.

"However, the company structure set up hasn’t proved to be the easiest model to work with. In essence, there was a big company structure being managed by a very small staff.

“Combine that with a commitment to buy cocoa beans direct from the farmers and an uncompromising approach to making the best quality craft chocolate and, with the benefit of hindsight, it’s not hard to see there were some challenges for the company from the start.”