A FAMILY-run fudge and chocolate business in St Ives with customers around the world has announced it is to increase its workforce, taking on 26 new staff.
The news comes after County Confectionery, run by the Brian family since 1981, secured a deal with HSBC to help fund a £500,000 expansion at its Penbeagle Industrial Estate site.
The company already employs 56 people making fudge and chocolate for leading supermarkets and overseas customers who then add their own labels, as well as County's own Copperpot brand.
The aim is to build a second production line on land next door to the current site. Planning permission for an extension has already been secured.
The news is a huge boost to a town that has a job shortage and a predominance of seasonal and part-time work, and has been welcomed as "massive" by the mayor of St Ives.
The company plans to have the new production line installed by the middle of the year, with the new jobs online thereafter.
Operations director Chris Brian said: "It takes about six months to have it built. There are only two or three people in the world who can build them, it's not just something you can go into B&Q and buy. It is fairly complex and involves a number of pieces of equipment."
Mr Brian said the company would be looking to fill the 25 vacancies in St Ives and the surrounding area.
He said: "We very much want to recruit locally. It's part of our ethos and actually most of our managers have been developed internally. They will be a mixture of technical, engineering and production staff and some admin."
The new production line and staff should double the company's turnover and increase on the 20 per cent of its business that is currently exported.
Mr Brian said: "Our growth is being constrained not by a lack of demand but by our capacity to produce enough of our products.
"This second fudge production line will significantly improve our manufacturing capacity and enable us to sell more both at home and abroad.
"It's just great to be able to run a business which is both national and international from what would on the surface appear to be quite a remote spot."
Ron Tulley, Mayor of St Ives, said the nature of the jobs as well as the number was a huge boost: "It's really good news. There are two things we desperately need in St Ives – they are affordable housing and jobs for the workers so 25 new full-time jobs is a massive thing for St Ives. Most of our jobs tend to be seasonal and often part time, so these jobs will be very welcome."