A BUSINESS man who was only able to eat 14 different types of foods because of intolerances set up his own company selling free-from chocolates.

Chris Crutchley suffered for years with intolerances including diary and refined sugar, meaning he was unable to enjoy the taste of chocolate for 15 years.

The 55-year-old said: “It was really bad. Most people can eat 250 different foods and I was down to 14. I couldn’t sleep and had stomach problems.”

Chris’ wife Steph encouraged him to go to a free-from chocolate making course and he said: “I thought I’d give it a go. We made chocolate and it was absolutely dreadful.”

He added: “I thought I’m sure I can do better than this so I bought all the equipment and made a mess of the kitchen and started to develop a chocolate I could eat.”

Chris, who used to help turn around failing businesses, tested his finished product on friends and family, and received a positive response.

The father-of-one, from Thruxton, then sold it at a stand at an event, and said: “The amount of people who grabbed a sample and walked away and stopped in their tracks and you could see their faces change and think ‘this is really nice chocolate’. I thought maybe there’s a business here.”

That was in 2014 and now Chris’ chocolate Enjoy! is sold in numerous outlets, and has just launched in Holland and Barrett’s 300 stores nationwide.

The organic chocolate, created at the company’s factory in Picket Piece, Andover, is free from all 14 major allergens, and the new collection includes the UK’s first ever caramel filled bar for vegans, which Holland and Barrett will stock.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to be working with high street giant Holland and Barrett so soon after launching our new brand,” Chris commented.

“To think that just a few years ago I was experimenting with recipes in my kitchen and now our products are in 300 stores nationwide and online, it’s really exciting.”

Thanks to 12 investors coming on board with £500,000 funding, Chris and Steph were able to expand the business and re-brand this year, as well as bring a three-star Michelin chef on board in the kitchen.

He now hopes to grow the business further and have his products sold in more retail outlets, saying: “We want it to grow and become a major free from brand in the UK and overseas.”

Louise Broom, food category manager at Holland and Barrett, said: “It’s a great tasting quality brand and one we immediately knew we wanted to be the first major retailer to stock. Chris is certainly not alone in his struggle to find specialist products which suit his dietary requirements. This is why we are so delighted to be at the forefront of bringing this innovative product to a wider market across the UK.”

The first Enjoy! products to be stocked in Holland and Barrett stores and online are the Sumptuous Salted Caramel and Velvety Vanilla Caramel filled bars.

For more information visit joyofenjoy.com.