by Tom Ross, MBA 2019
Rococo Chocolates (hereafter ‘Rococo’) is a boutique British chocolatier that was founded over 35 years ago in London by Chantal Coady OBE. One of the UK’s longest established and most respected British luxury chocolate brands, the company has been at the forefront of developing new tastes and experiences. Following fresh investment and with new CEO Rupert Morley at the helm, Rococo are striving for an ambitious growth strategy that would take the company to the next level.
To get support for developing this new strategy, Rupert reached out to the LondonCAP programme at London Business School. Having recruited a new management team, he was keen to garner external perspective on a strategic plan for 3-5 years which covered all aspects of the company’s operations.
At the same time, myself and three other MBA students had chosen LondonCAP as one of our electives, and placed Rococo firmly as our number one choice. Unsurprisingly for such a diverse business school, we came from a range of backgrounds, with experience in Private Equity (Luyi), Consumer Products (Crystal) and Consulting (Fatya and me). Coming together as a group for the first time, we discovered that a sweet tooth and desire to work with a smaller, premium company were the driving reasons for choosing Rococo.
Excited to begin our project, we met with Rupert and his new management team for the project kick-off in their Marylebone store, located very close to LBS. We were introduced to Jamie (Sales Director), Ellen (Marketing Manager) and Grace (Merchandising Manager), taken through the history of the organisation and discussed the goals of the project at length. Rococo were also keen to get our early perspectives on the company and introduced us to the range of products in the store, offering more tastings than we could possibly eat.
To break the project into something more manageable, we established four workstreams; customer, competitor, product and pricing, and distribution. We paired each of our LondonCAP team with a member of the management team at Rococo. This provided the subject matter expertise that was required from Rococo and gave us independence to work on our workstreams, critical at such a busy time of the year for MBA students where co-ordination is difficult.
Over the course of the next ten weeks, we worked with Rococo to deliver a strategic plan, using our previous experience and frameworks picked up during the MBA. Activities included running surveys for customers and non-customers, undertaking wide-scale competitor analysis in both physical and digital footprints, conducting blind taste tests, analysing the portfolio strength of the company and developing detailed financial models for future distribution strategies. In addition, each of us worked in one of their stores for the day to immerse ourselves in the inner workings of the company, learning more about their customers, product offerings and store processes.
The project culminated in a presentation to Rupert and his management team of a strategic plan that brought together the four workstreams and provided an ambitious but achievable goal. This was greatly received by Rococo, who have used our work to guide their direction and continue to provide updates on their progress.
Throughout the project, we were all hugely impressed by the energy, ambition and welcoming nature of everyone at Rococo. They made us feel part of the small but growing family, meeting with us regularly to answer our questions and track progress on the project. We were also able to implement several recommendations in real time rather than wait until the end of the project, which was incredibly rewarding, and very different to working on projects with large, multinational companies.
We all greatly enjoyed our time working with Rococo and were continuously blown away by the quality and uniqueness of their products. We look forward to seeing the company grow to meet its ambitious growth plans in the coming years.