Staying true to tradition while embracing the new has helped Haigh’s build a loyal following over their 102-year history.

Family favourites

For Haigh’s Chocolates CEO and joint-managing director, Alister Haigh, Dark Aprichocs tops his list of favourite chocolates. “They were invented by my great grandfather in the early 1920s and have remained a customer favourite,” he says.

Alister’s brother and joint-managing director, Simon, nominates the Shiraz Truffle as his current favourite. "It’s all subjective and I like trying new things," he grins.

A commitment to quality

One thing the brothers have in common is memories of running through the factory as kids, filling their pockets with whatever they could grab. “When Simon and I started working in the 1970s, two dozen people worked in the factory and we had four shops here in Adelaide and three in Melbourne. We now employ 500 people but, basically, our core values haven’t changed,” explains Alister.

Simon and Alister have continued their father’s dedication to producing high quality chocolate. And while handmade traditions remain the business’s bedrock, the brothers have no plans to slow down growth. Instead, they are ramping up production for more shops across Australia and their thriving online sales categories. Further down the pipeline, some overseas territories are in the mix as well.

The secrets to their success

Their trade secret? Start with the best ingredients and use the best machinery. Then take the necessary time to make sure everything’s the best it can be before you sell it to a customer. “And you make sure the customer service is flawless,” adds Alister.

Simon points out that Haigh’s stands out from its competitors in a number of ways. “Firstly, we start with raw cocoa beans and make our own couverture to our own flavour specifications. A lot of chocolate makers don’t.” For Simon, getting listed in the World Chocolate Awards book in the ‘bean to bar’ category was a fantastic recognition of their achievements.

“Secondly”, continues Alister, “Selling only through Haigh’s shops means the brand doesn’t have to compete on the shelf and we can control the quality of customer service and build long-term relationships.”

Peak periods

Unsurprisingly, Easter is the busiest time of year for Haigh’s. “We ensure the foil wrappers, tins and boxes follow a different theme each year,” says Simon. “There’s always something new looking but reliably great tasting on offer. It helps make a gift feel special.”

So are eggs their best sellers? Alister thinks not. “By weight, it’s a toss-up between milk speckles and milk chocolate frogs. Value wise, it's our range of chocolate frogs for sure.”

An inclusive workplace

The company is just as proud of their 20-year record of employing people with disabilities. “In fact,” beams Alister, “One of those original team members is still with us.” He adds that Haigh’s is working on ways to integrate more people with disabilities into their shops as well as the Adelaide factory.

Both Simon and Alister agree their greatest achievement is yet to come. “It's when we hand a healthy business over to the next generation and retire. Then five years later, it's still going strong,” says Simon.

At NAB, we’re proud of our relationship with Haigh’s Chocolates. Like Haigh’s, we understand that providing customer service and building long-term relationships are just as important as creating quality products and taking the time to get things right.

The Haighs and their chocolate factory

Watch us unwrap what's kept Haigh's going strong for over 100 years.

Important information

The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, NAB recommends that you consider whether it is appropriate for your circumstances. NAB recommends that you seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.

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