A multi-million pound company has opened a new shop in Chichester, with windows looking into its factory next door.
Contract Candles, based in Fernhurst, started off making candles for Marks and Spencer, before beginning its own line of hand-poured products.
The factory in Quarry Lane industrial estate is set to provide a much needed expansion for the next five years, and the adjoining shop opened this week.
One of the directors, Fiona Hamilton-Fox said: “The shop in Chichester is actually our fifth shop but I think, in our opinion, it’s going to be one of the best.
“We’ve made it from scratch and we’re really really happy with how it looks.”
The outlet’s windows onto the factory floor are a first for the company, which often receives requests to see behind the scenes.
Health and safety and a few trade secrets prevent the company from holding factory tours, but Fiona hopes the feature will add something to the customer experience.
She said: “I don’t think many people realise just how complex it can be, it’s a hand-poured, hand-finished product we make. It’s not like a candle from IKEA which is made in the Far East and by a machine.
“Each candle goes through 15 pairs of hands from the moment it’s poured to the last person who wraps it, it’s held many times.
“I think if they can understand that what they pick up in the shop has been hand-poured just a few yards away, I think that’s quite unique.
“People don’t tend to get that experience when they buy something.”
The shop will be open seven days a week, with everything but tea lights made a few steps away.
Sister shops in Horsham and Midhurst have done well, but a large part of the business is still manufacturing for other brands.
Fiona said it had been very exciting to see the Chichester factory come to life.
She said “It hasn’t been an easy ride. Candles have only been popular in the last five years, before then it was quite hard to make ends meet, but in the last few years candles have been very popular and infusers as well.
“Everyone’s looking to scent their homes in new ways.”