Confectionery supplier Fudge Kitchen is to open its own production facility to handle a new range developed specifically for mainstream retail.

The 30-year-old business, which previously only sold fresh hand-made fudge through its eight shops across the UK, has invested £250,000 in a production facility in Aylesham, Kent.

The plant is due to begin operating in April, and will increase production of the company’s longer-life Devilishly Different Gourmet Butter Fudge range, which was developed as part of the Fudge Kitchen’s new strategy to expand into mainstream retail.

Launched into deli and speciality food shops last year, Devilishly Different would appeal to mainstream retailers as it was based on butter, giving it a six-month shelf life compared with the three-week life span of its shop-made fudge containing fresh cream, said the company.

“The short shelf life is fine for our own shops but it prevented us from moving into the mainstream retail market,” said Fudge Kitchen marketing and business development manager Emily Murren.

She added that Devilishly Different would be positioned as a rival to luxury chocolate products rather than traditional fudge.

It will be available in three key formats: miniatures, sticks and sharing squares (rsps: from £2.50, £5 and £6 respectively.)

“We are offering true innovation in the premium chocolate sector, where there has been an explosion of chocolate brands with very little differentiation,” she said.