Karen Flavelle, Owner, CEO & Chair
As CEO of Purdys Chocolatier, Karen Flavelle’s passion for quality, chocolate and people has been the key to her success in re-invigorating the iconic 115-year-old heritage brand and increasing its reputation for premium chocolates. A native Vancouverite, Karen bought Purdys Chocolatier from her father Charles Flavelle in 1997. She prioritized listening to Purdys customers and revolutionized many aspects of the business including merchandising, marketing, recipe development, factory and store efficiencies and more. Through her leadership, Karen grew the business from 42 to 80 locations across Canada including Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and established an E-commerce sales channel.
Karen and Purdys have always been passionate about giving back. As a purpose-driven and family-run organization, Purdys supports communities where they do business: in Canada and the Ivory Coast. Support ranges from paying premiums to source sustainable cocoa to support cocoa farmers, to investing in organizations throughout Purdys Purple Partnerships that support the 2SLGBTQ+ community; Black, Indigenous, People of Colour (BIPOC) communities, and women & children.
Karen has supported many organizations privately, the major recipients being: BC Children’s Hospital Foundation creating the Flavelle Wellness Park, Take a Hike Foundation and Pacific Autism Family Network Foundation.
In addition to Purdys being named an AON Best Employer nine times under her leadership, Karen has won numerous awards such as being named WXN’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, BC’s top 500 most influential business leaders in Food and Beverage, a Top CEO in Canada by Glassdoor.
Charles Flavelle, Former Owner of Purdys Chocolatier
Charles Flavelle’s legacy is intricately woven into the transformation of R.C. Purdys Chocolates. In 1963, he and his partner, Eric Wilson, acquired Purdys and propelled it from four stores to 44, expanding across Vancouver’s west side, Vancouver Island, and Alberta, introducing seasonal direct-to-customer sales. Additionally, during 1980-81, Charles took on the monumental task of organizing and outfitting a new 157,000-square-foot factory to replace the original 6,000-square-foot facility. Charles’s remarkable contributions extended beyond his role at R.C. Purdys Chocolates. He understood the importance of community and created Choklit Park, providing local children in underserved areas with an exciting place to play, filling a void in their access to public parks.
Charles’s exceptional ability to build strong relationships with landlords facilitated the company’s growth, while his talent for nurturing an enduring company culture motivated employees to stay for decades, becoming integral to Purdys.
Beyond chocolates, he made significant industry contributions as the first international member of Retail Confectioners International (RCI) and served as RCI Board President in 1975-76. His community commitment was equally remarkable, championing family businesses through the Canadian Association of Family Enterprises (CAFE), supporting the arts, actively participating in the Vancouver Rotary, and fostering equitable agreements with retailers on the Granville Island committee.
In politics, he advocated for development boundaries in Kerrisdale, preserving its character, and lobbied against proposed 1970s freeways, leading to the formation of the Traffic and Environment Action Movement (TEAMs). Charles Flavelle’s legacy extends across business, community, and civic engagement, leaving a multifaceted impact.