Sams was proved to be emphatically correct in his theory. Green and Blacks (green for organic, black for dark) alone made Sams and the other five directors of his company over £5million each, changing the way the chocolate industry viewed itself and its consumers for an entire generation.
‘Smaller farms can not only sustain themselves but turn a profit’
‘It was quite incredible the way the chocolate industry manoeuvred after our success,’ Sams says. ‘There was a real shift in the way it viewed smaller, independent enterprises and how they could help the bigger, established ones. Just look at Kraft, their investment into small farms and businesses today is in excess of $400million, and they do that so smaller farms can not only sustain themselves but turn a profit.’
Green and Blacks was sold to Cadbury’s in 2005, and subsequently to Kraft in 2010, although it retains its ethos thanks to Sam’s presence as Honorary President. But that isn’t the only work that keeps Sams busy – he serves as a director of Duchy Originals Ltd, as a trustee of the Slow Food Trust UK and of Judges Bakery Ltd, an organic bakery in Hastings. He also hosts the Wellington Square Natural Health Centre, also on the south coast, which acts as a venue for alternative and complementary therapies. Sams jokes that his PA never knows what she is going to be asked to do next.
‘But I enjoy that aspect of my work,’ he says. ‘I am not all about the profit and reward like I was – I like to enjoy what I am doing. And I am in a fortunate position where more often than not I can choose to do what I enjoy.’
But he has a stark warning for all budding entrepreneurs – it is as tough out there as it ever was.
‘It is not easy at the moment,’ he says. ‘Even getting on sale in the first place is hard enough, never mind sustaining profit. Until banks start to have more confidence and can begin to lend to small businesses, it will continue to be a struggle.
‘But that shouldn’t make people too downhearted. There are still ways around it, and all is not lost. If you have a good idea you have a chance, as everything starts with a good idea. And if you can get there with that idea early enough you have a chance too. Just remember, maintaining success and keeping profits high is difficult, and many people struggle to do so. But great entrepreneurs have been born out of tough economic climates, and there are many more just around the corner, I am sure.’
The Moment talks to… Craig Sams, founder of Green & Blacks 1 2