Construction and property firm Henry Boot has announced record annual results thanks to unprecedented demand for luxury apartments at the former Terry's Chocolate Factory in York.
The Sheffield-based firm has completed all the sales at the main building at the Chocolate Factory, way ahead of its original deadline of mid-2019.
The firm is now focused on getting the iconic clock at the top of tower ticking again and plans to achieve this in the next 12 to 18 months. It is also close to getting planning permission for another 22 units in the Clocktower and has plans to develop the buildings at the bottom of the tower.
The factory, which was built in an Art Deco style with a distinctive clock tower, opened in 1926. The site developed and produced famous products such as Terry’s Chocolate Orange and Terry’s All Gold.
However, the factory closed in 2005 with the loss of 300 jobs after parent company Kraft Foods decided to switch production abroad. Following closure the site fell into disrepair and in 2009, it was put on the at-risk register by English Heritage.
Today the site, which is adjacent to York Racecourse, has 236,806 square feet of iconic listed buildings plus cleared development land.
The award winning development is seen as an outstanding example of Yorkshire regeneration and Henry Boot has been overwhelmed by demand from buyers.
Henry Boot's CEO John Sutcliffe said: "We are delighted with how well the Chocolate Factory in York has performed.
"It's an iconic development that celebrates the city's rich history and customers have flocked to buy an apartment within the listed buildings.
"The views are unbelievable. on one side there are lovely views on the Minster and on the other side the enormous windows look out on to open countryside and the racecourse."
Henry Boot has also agreed terms with the team who own and run the “Star in the City" restaurant in York and the "Star at Harome” 14th-century thatched inn near Helmsley, which has been awarded a Michelin star.
The Star team will run a restaurant, cafe and delicatessen, which will be housed in the former liquor store at the factory. Liquor was traditionally used in chocolate manufacturing.
Henry Boot is also in discussion with the city council to develop another 2.5 acre area south of the existing building, which could be turned into 125 to 150 apartments.
The group announced its latest plans for the Chocolate Factory alongside 2017 annual results which showed a 33 per cent jump in revenue to £409m in 2017.
Revenue was more than double the 2015 result on the back of projects like the Chocolate Factory.
Pre-tax profit rose jumped 40 per cent to £55.4m. The group has proposed a final dividend of 5.20p, up from 4.50p, giving a total for the year of 8.00p, a 14 per cent increase on 2016.
The firm said it has started 2018 with the healthiest order book it has seen in years.
Mr Sutcliffe said: “2017 delivered a record financial performance, primarily due to development schemes being delivered more quickly than we initially anticipated.
"Notwithstanding any potential impact from the decision to leave the EU, our business model and strategic aims remain unchanged, and 2018 has started well across all our business streams.”