Spain-based chocolate group Natra is eyeing a jump in UK sales after opening a dedicated office for the country in London.

Natra, which generates the bulk of its revenue from business with manufacturers and retailers, believes the office can help the UK become a bigger chunk of its sales in the next five years.

At present, the UK accounts for under 3% of Natra’s turnover. Ferran Infante, sales director for Natra’s operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said he expects the UK to become 10% of the company’s sales in five years.

“We have big plans for the UK,” Infante told just-food at the ISM confectionery trade fair in Cologne.

“We have plans to grow in three segments. We are present in practically all the big retailers but not in all categories. Today we have a lot of sales in chocolate spreads but we want to be very active in countlines, pralines and spreads. In business to brands, we have very interesting projects. And we want to grow in the gifting sector, the more specialist chocolate shops.”

Infante said the decision to open the UK office was a sign of its importance to the confectionery sector, rather due to recent signs of an economic recovery in the country.

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“I don’t the UK has ever been in a big crisis, not like southern Europe. By per capita consumption, the UK is almost the biggest market in Europe. The market is the most diverisified and the most innovative. Everything changes, you find plenty of new products, which is not something that is happening in the rest of Europe.”

Natra has yet to report its 2013 financial results. The company’s turnover in 2012 stood at EUR355.5m (US$484.9m), down 0.5% on 2011.