An Abergavenny baker with a passion for creating the very best chocolate brownies he can has seen his business thrive and grow during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Greg Shearman, founder of the Chock Shop, has taken on extra staff and moved to a new manufacturing hub at Nantgavenny Lane in Mardy since the first lockdown last year.
He said it was only possible because of help from government grants.
“The support my small business has had is nothing short of sensational, with the grants and furlough scheme enabling us to plan for the future,” said Mr Shearman.
“Since lockdown we have expanded Chock Shop into a manufacturing hub and we now distribute our brownies across the UK to 11 franchises.
“These are produced in Monmouthshire using local Monmouthshire staff. We have created nine jobs from the grants and business support we have received.”
Renowned for its handmade, hand cut and hand decorated brownies, Chock Shop started as an online delivery business several years ago. Mr Shearman decided to try a Christmas market on a whim and had queues all day.
With displays of so many varieties of artisan brownies – made using a round cutter instead of baked in a traditional rectangular tray – Chock Shop soon became a firm favourite at food festivals, markets and open air-shows around the country.
Mr Shearman now distributes to Sussex, Yorkshire, West Midlands, Staffordshire, Leicestershire, Berkshire, Herefordshire, Worcester and Somerset as well as across Wales.
In a further boost to the local economy, he has also signed up to the UK Government’s landmark Kickstart Scheme and created a six-month work placement for two young people.
Monmouth MP David Davies and South Wales East MS Natasha Asghar visited the manufacturing hub on Friday (11 June) to meet the Kickstart trainees and hear how Chock Shop has beaten the pandemic odds for small business.
Mr Davies said: “I am absolutely delighted to visit the Chock Shop today and I’d highly recommend the delicious chocolate brownies.
“I’m glad to see some businesses have been able to prosper during these terrible times and it was great to meet the two Kickstart trainees, Lola Cummings and Ethan Heckles.
“I congratulate Mr Shearman on his business venture and I look forward to visiting again very soon.”
Ms Asghar added: “It was great to visit Chock Shop today with the local MP, David Davies, and hear how this small business has managed to grow and thrive in the most difficult economic climate.
“This is due to the initiative and dedication of Greg Shearman and his team, supported by funding programmes by the UK Conservative Government.
“I would like to thank Greg and everyone at Chock Shop for allowing David and me to visit and for their warm welcome.
“I am confident demand for Chock Shop’s delicious chocolate brownies will continue to grow creating even more jobs in Monmouthshire.
"I wish them every success in the future.”