London based chocolaterie founded in 1902 by Antoine Dufour
Every great idea comes from a brilliant mind and the story of Prestat begins like this, from an idea of the Master Chocolatier Antoine Dufour and his family who in 1895 invented the chocolate truffle in Chambery, France, a truffle which in a few years would become famous and appreciated all over the world.
In 1902 Dufour moved to London and founded Prestat by opening his first shop on 24 South Molton Street and within a short time 2 further stores would be opened, one in 405 Oxford Street and the other in 28 & 29 St Swithin's Lane in the city of London.
With the advent of the Second World War, Prestat entered a moment of crisis and Antoine's son, Tony Dufour, who in the meantime had taken over the company, was forced to sell two of the shops, keeping only the one on South Molton Street, and to finally sell the company to Maxwell Croft.
Maxwell was a regular customer of Prestat and, having learned of Tony's willingness to sell, decided to buy it, immediately entrusting the reins of the company to his brother Neville and his wife Elisabeth.
Under the new management, Prestat experienced a golden period. Coming from the theatrical world Neville made the South Molton Street shop his stage, so much so that his office was separated from the shop by a red curtain and, at the time of the purchase of an important customer, he came out to offer thanks.
One of the most important customers of that period was Roald Dahl, author of the best-seller "The Chocolate Factory", who was inspired by Prestat for the composition of the adult novel "Uncle Oswald", using the famous truffles for the plot!
On the product side Neville developed a mint chocolate line and at that time the kitchens were running at full speed. There was a renewal in the design of the packaging and Prestat became known for its red and golden caskets and for its high and brown packaging for truffles.
In 1975 Prestat had the honour and privilege of being awarded a Royal Warrant by Her Majesty The Queen, which effectively recognised the company as a supplier of chocolate to the British Royal Household.
At the end of the 70s Neville, for a number of reasons including his poor health, that of his wife and the end of the lease of the shop on South Molton street, decided to leave the scene knowing that Prestat needed a younger face with fresh ideas.
In 1979 Prestat was bought by Stanley S. Cohen, a successful entrepreneur present in many businesses. The venue was relocated from South Molton street to the current Piccadilly premises in the Princes Arcade. Cohen was a very busy man with all his activities and could not concentrate on Prestat.
So in 1998 Nick Crean, a Prestat customer since childhood, took the opportunity to ask Cohen of his plans for the business or if he intended to sell. Nick's dream came true in October 1998 when, together with his brother Bill Keeling, he purchased Prestat. It is the beginning of a small revolution, the shop was modernised and the artist Kitty Arden was commissioned to create a new design for the different boxes, while maintaining the theatrical style that has characterised the history of Prestat.
In November 1999, Prestat was awarded a second Royal Warrant by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, cementing its status as one of the most luxurious chocolatiers in the world.
As the years went by, new products were introduced and a second shop was opened in 2005, after more than fifty years. Prestat chocolate is available in stores, including: Harrods, Selfridges, Liberty, John Lewis, Wholefoods Market, Waitrose and is present in many countries around the world.
In 2006 Prestat acquired Marasu's Petits Fours Limited, a historic company founded in 1986 by master pastry chefs Rolf Kern and Gabi Kohler with the aim of supplying top quality chocolates and pastries to London's best hotels, restaurants and clubs. Today, Marasu's produces chocolates and baked goods for Prestat and is regarded as London's largest producer of premium chocolates with an annual output of over 300 tonnes from its 25,000 square foot facilities in Park Royal. With a highly skilled workforce, Marasu's is BRC Grade A certified, certified by organic farmers and growers, and operates under halal certification standards. Its products have won numerous Great Taste Awards and its chocolatiers develop dozens of new recipes every year.
A production facility was opened in Park Royal, West London, which increased Prestat's production capabilities and expanded its private label offering.
In 2019 Prestat was acquired by Domori, a subsidiary of the Polo del Gusto - Illy Group.
Thanks to this deal Prestat can access Domori's acclaimed single origin couvertures. This made Prestat the only sizeable UK artisan chocolatier to have complete control of the chocolate making process from tree to truffle or bean to bar.
Prestat's 2022 starts with a new CEO, Micaela Illy. Listen to her interview about Prestat's next steps!
The present and the future of our great Brand, in this long interview by "Meet the Makers" for UK.Chocolatier.