RUNNING a chocolate factory is surely the dream job for a lot of people.

For Mike Mills, one of the founders and directors of Caerphilly-based business Oncocoa, the journey to becoming South Wales’ take on Willy Wonka is something he has enjoyed.

But for Mr Mills, former product designer, chocolate was not always the obvious choice.

“I love it,” he said. “I have got a penchant for it and I do like chocolate.”

“But my background is in law so it’s a major change for me.

Speciality chocolate maker Oncocoa was set up in spring 2013 although it did not actually start trading until later that year.

The company, which started with their unique brand of novelty chocolate gifts, experienced success when it won a contract worth around £290,000 to supply every Tesco store in Wales - just months after launching.

Supplying 7,000 units a month, Oncocoa has gone on to win contracts with John Lewis and World Duty Free, meaning Cardiff airport are also stocking the chocolate.

On top of this, every museum in Wales now stocks the chocolate.

It produces products for seasonal celebrations all year round including Christmas, Valentines, St David’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Halloween.

While the business employs three employees in north Powys where the chocolate is actually made, four employees are based in Caerphilly to design the packaging.

And the business, which was supported by the Welsh Government’s High Potential Start up programme, has now been recognised us as a high growth business and put on the accelerated growth programme.

It all started with a simple idea, but something which had never been done before – chocolate greetings cards.

“We originally set up to create chocolate cards, cards have a bar of chocolate in the back,” he said.

The company sold to Clinton cards and then “we just went with it”, Mr Mills explains.

The founders include Dave Hughes, who had been making and supplying chocolates for ten years and had built up a reputation for his artisan chocolate creations as well as Ben Robertson, Mike Mills’ colleague.

Mr Robertson and Mr Mills ran a thriving product design business which had considerable success designing unusual retail products for high street chains such as Clinton Cards, W H Smith, H Samuel and many other leading corporate brands.

Mr Mills said: “It was a bit of an experiment to go a bit Willy Wonka.”

But one of the most exciting things for him working for the business is the design of the products.

He said: “It’s very easy to keep nibbling on it but it’s also nice to step back and admire the products when you created it.”

He speaks of the company’s success supplying to some really big brands.

“Really we have done that on the back of our bespoke designs,” he said.

Sixty per cent of the trade Oncocoa does is also in the corporate world.

“We make bespoke products for them,” Mr Mills said. “If somebody’s doing an exhibition and if they want to do some giveaways, or if they want an interesting product for conferences and exhibitions, we can supply them.”

He said they have also signed an exclusive deal with S4C to make chocolate branded with Cyw, the children’s TV show.

He said: “We have created a whole range of chocolates around the Cyw brand. It’s nice we are working with a very recognised and very Welsh brand.”

Oncocoa have also recently brought in other confectionary including fudge and truffles. But Mr Mills said it is still early days and they are growing very quickly.

And his favourite type of chocolate?

I’m a dark chocolate man,” Mr Mills said. “The darker the less sugar content.

“Now if you look on the shelves of the supermarkets there are more dark chocolate products, that was unheard of before.

“But you can do so much with dark. The range is bigger.”