AN AWARD-winning chocolatier has celebrated the opening of its first shop outside of Dorset.

Chococo, on High Street in Winchester, was officially opened by Mayor of Winchester Cllr Ernie Jeffs, and MP for Winchester and Chandler’s Ford, Steve Brine.

The company, which has won 40 fine food awards since 2003, including winner of Inspirational Food Business of the Year in the Taste of Dorset Awards 2009, has just celebrated its eleventh birthday.

Claire Burnet, co-founder and chief chocolatier, said: “We’re thrilled to have chosen Winchester as the site for our first opening outside of Dorset. It’s a great city to be located in and we’ve been really touched by the support that we’ve initially had from local customers.

“We’re very proud of working as much as possible with local suppliers and we’ve used this in our new shop. We are working with the Bakery Boys, Little Bee Bakery in Romsey, Hill Farm Fruit Juices and Char tea, just a few doors down from us here in Winchester.”

Cllr Jeffs welcomed the shop to the city, he said: “We’re very proud of Winchester and that it attracts and supports new businesses.

“We look forward to helping our newest member of the business community become a success.”

Renowned for their sweet treats made from fresh local produce, the shop also boasts a colourful cafe area selling sundaes, cakes and hot drinks.

Mr Brine added: “It’s a very positive sight to see an artisan company open a new shop in the centre of our historic city.

“Chococo’s support of local business and employment of local residents shows that the high street is thriving and retains a unique independent feel that is so important to Winchester as a place to come and shop. I wish them the best of luck.”