FOR decades Nestle has been one of York’s largest employers with its confectionery headquarters in the city making a sizeable contribution to the success of the global company.

In recent years the company’s core brands have been adapted to meet the changing needs of UK consumers, with KitKat two finger becoming Fairtrade and Quality Street remaining the number one Christmas confectionery product.

In its bid to meet targets of 100 per cent sustainable cocoa usage by 2015, Nestle has transferred iconic brands including Yorkie, Smarties and Aero to sustainable cocoa.

In November 2013, the York HR team announced the intention to create 1,900 employment opportunities for young people over the next three years, including 300 paid work experience placements.

In addition, the initiative includes doubling the number of graduates and interns and Fast Start programme in conjunction with Sheffield Hallam University, which is a three year programme of work and study which they will be paid to do with fees paid for by Nestlé and a job at the end.

In 2013, Nestlé UK & Ireland’s chairman and chief executive announced a strong performance for the year as major investment in UK manufacturing came onstream.

Fiona Kendrick said: “UK and Irish consumers are changing the way they shop and it is reshaping the food industry.

“We are responding to this new reality, particularly in fast growing channels such as online shopping, convenience stores and discounters.

“Innovation continues to be key in growing our business and we are offering our consumers new products to meet their changing needs.”

In York’s confectionery business, which is vying for the Large Business of the Year title, the stand-out performance was the York-made Yorkie, growing sales by 31.6 per cent in 2013 compared to 2012. The brand has seen a renaissance over the last two years growing at more than 50 per cent.