Owner of local artisan chocolate shop opening in Norwich’s Royal Arcade

A former headteacher is fulfilling a dream of moving her business making chocolates by hand into the centre of Norwich.

Angela Ruthven, 76, who’s been running Saffire since she retired in 2004, based in a unit in Taverham Garden Centre, always wanted to be in the Royal Arcade. But for years, when the renowned Digby’s chocolate shop was based there, run by Digby Eddison, she said she couldn’t get a lease.

Now, years after Digby’s sold up and Mr Eddison started a new chocolate shop in Cromer, and the English Chocolate Company, which opened in the Arcade last year and quickly closed again, Mrs Ruthven applied for a lease – and was successful. As a result, she will be closing her unit in Taverham Garden Centre and relocating in a couple of weeks.

The shop, which will sell chocolates made by hand on the premises in the Arcade, will be in the unit next door to where Digby’s was. It will sell individual chocolates in small presentation boxes and a new range of truffles as well as a very small range of ready-made items including single origin chocolate bars, which contain higher cocoa content and less sugar, and chocolate coated brazil nuts,

The shop’s full title will be called ‘Royal Arcade Chocolates; Home of Artisan Chocolates by Saffire.’

We are bringing chocolates back to the Royal Arcade,” said Mrs Ruthven. “I’ve been trying for years to get in the Arcade but couldn’t because Digby’s was there and it was thought it would be competition.”

Mrs Ruthven retired as a headteacher and then retrained as a chocolatier as a hobby and only after people started asking to buy chocolates from her, did she set up her own business within months. She uses only natural ingredients and at her busiest, at Christmas time, will make up to 6,000 chocolates a week.

She will stop selling chocolates from Taverham Garden Centre next Sunday and then hopes to be open in the Arcade by mid September. Joining her will be her daughter-in-law and her god-daughter, who both work in the business, meaning she has no current plans to recruit. “I’m so excited, it’s always been a dream to be in the Royal Arcade. Artisan chocolates mean they are not mass produced and makes us very unusual. Digby’s was very successful but even he didn’t make the chocolates.

“I do buy in very few things, one is chocolate dipped brazil nuts because life is too short to do that yourself.”