Sales rose 7.5% at confectionery wholesaler Hancocks last year after more retailers picked up its own-label lines.

Sales across its 18 depots passed £100m for the first time, with the number of active customers increasing 8% in 2011.

Independent retailers had bought more of Hancocks’ own-label lines because they offered better value for shoppers and a bigger margin for retailers, said MD Mark Watson.

“Many brands are simply not giving our customers the opportunity to make a decent margin,” he said. “We intend to develop our specialist cash & carry activities in addition to expanding the new e-commerce arm of our business.”

It has also broadened its range, recently launching a selection of sugar-free sweets in £1 bags following their successful launch in jars. The bagged range includes Chocolate Eclairs, Devon Toffee, Fruit Chews, Mint Humbugs, Fruit Drops and Throat & Chest.

“The sugar-free category is coming to the fore,” said purchasing director Jonathan Summerley.