A master chocolatier has all the ingredients for a successful business after being crowned the winner of The Mall Blackburn’s annual Retail Factor competition.
Mother of three Sabiha Patel owns and runs Simply Chocolicious, which sells unique, delicious chocolate treats such as edible roses, chocolate engagement rings, three foot chocolate cars and chocolate pizza.
She captivated judges with her enthusiasm and dedication and she worked through the night to produce fresh, daily supplies of beautifully presented chocolate gifts for a two-week trading trial at The Mall Blackburn.
Orders for her products, which are all Halal and suitable for vegetarians, have ranged from one off designs to orders of up to 1600 handmade products, which she personally creates from start to finish.
The company also creates its own unique flavours with fresh ingredients and its current best seller being mouth-watering mango and white chocolate. Sabiha heard about the Retail Factor competition when she was shopping at The Mall Blackburn and was urged to enter by friends and family. Her passion, drive and high quality, exclusive products earned her a place in the top three.
She went head to head against Islamic art specialists Baitul Fhunoon and bespoke embroidery company Inkthreadable as they all completed two week trading periods in Victoria Court in The Mall.
The judges, who included last year’s local and national champion Sophia Patel, business advisor Salma Chaudhry and The Mall’s General Manager Loraine Jones and Marketing Manager Samantha Butcher, based their decision on factors such as sales, presentation of displays, product quality and customer feedback.
Her prize is a further two month’s rent-free space and £500 towards stock. Sabiha will also be entered into the national final against competitors from eight others Malls across the UK to be in with a chance of winning a place on the exclusive retail business course BHF-BSSA Oxford Summer School.
She said: “I am absolutely over the moon to have won the Retail Factor and I am really looking forward to seeing what the future holds for my business.
“I received fantastic feedback from customers at The Mall and my products flew off the shelves!
“I take great pride in each and every one of my creations and work hard to make sure the taste is perfect and they look great and it is brilliant to see that all my effort has paid off.
“As always, I am constantly ‘cooking up’ new ideas and I will be showcasing concepts such as unique chocolate hampers exclusive personalised gifts during my time at The Mall.
“Hopefully, this will lead to a more permanent base and I can’t wait to get ‘choccing away’!
Last year’s winner, Sophia Patel of Cupcakes and Cookies in Blackburn Market, said: “Sabiha’s business struck an instant cord with me and she reminds me of myself this time last year.
“She did a brilliant job during her two week trading period and I look forward to seeing her business grow.”
Salma Chaudhry, who is a business advisor for the Lancashire based Consortium of Enterprise Agencies, added: “Sabiha’s products were extremely well-presented and as an everyday purchase, they were appropriately priced for a large target audience.
“We all felt that her business model, pride in her products and passion for success made her a very worthy winner.”
Loraine Jones, General Manager at The Mall Blackburn, said: “We are absolutely delighted to announce that Sabiha Patel and her business Simply Chocolicious is the winner of The Mall Blackburn Retail Factor Competition.
“She is extremely knowledgeable about her products and very responsive to the needs of customers. We think she will make an excellent addition to The Mall Blackburn and wish her every success for the future.”