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Marks & Spencer will start selling a Bath chocolatier’s Valentine’s Day product after it was accused of copying the family-run business' design.
The concession comes after chocolate maker Choc on Choc took to social media over the weekend to accuse the retail giant of making a “strikingly similar” box of chocolate matchsticks.
M&S launched its Perfect Match box of chocolate matchsticks – with blonde chocolate matchsticks stamped with the product's name – ahead of Valentine’s Day.
However, Choc on Choc says the product bears a striking resemblance to its own Perfect match item, which the brand has produced since 2015.
Flo Broughton, founder of the Bath chocolatier, said she was "frustrated" when she saw the M&S product.
“My initial reaction was just frustration because we're so small", she said.
"It's happened to us before. But this time, for some reason, it was much more galling. It really hit the pit of my stomach this time. And I just felt it wasn't right."
Ms Broughton said one of her customers first spotted the chocolates in M&S earlier this month and alerted them to the product.
She said she received thousands of messages of support from customers and other small companies after calling out the retailer on social media.
The posts sparked the attention of M&S, who, after consultation over the weekend with Choc on Choc, has now committed to sell the Bath-based company’s chocolate matchsticks.
“After posting about the copying on social media on Friday and Saturday, M&S contacted me and said they wanted to resolve this,” Ms Broughton added.
“On Sunday lunchtime we had a video conferencing call and came to an agreement.
“As well as resolving the current situation regarding The Perfect Match product, M&S has also committed to my request to accepting more ideas from small businesses through their small supplier programme.”
M&S said it will sell the matchstick products for Valentines Day and will work with the brand on products around Mother’s Day and Easter.
It comes months after M&S launched a pair of lawsuits against rival Aldi regarding allegations it copied designs for M&S favourite Colin the Caterpillar cake and light-up Christmas gin designs.
An M&S spokesman said: “We take IP (intellectual property) very seriously and when we saw Choc on Choc’s social media posts we immediately got in touch.
“Choc on Choc is a fantastic company producing quality chocolates and we’re delighted to be working with them through our small supplier programme going forwards.”