Shares in Yowie jumped after the Australian chocolate maker announced expanded distribution into the US.

The shares gained as much as 20 per cent to 20.5c on Thursday — though they were still down significantly on their 52-week high of 68c in January.

The shares were trading at 18.5c in Thursday afternoon trade.

Yowie (ASX:YOW) has expanded to 1250 US Target stores after a 300-store trial and is now distributing to Albertson’s, Wakefern and Brookshire Bros on the east and west coasts of the US.

Another 8000 new stores will come on stream in the March 2018 quarter, from sales expansion into Circle K, Speedway, Travel Centers of America, Sunoco and AMPM.

Yowie shares over the past year. Source:
Yowie shares over the past year. Source:

Yowie’s Chief Operating Officer, Mark Schuessler, says the company believes Yowie has significant scope for further penetration and growth in the US.

“We see distribution growth potential extending beyond fiscal 2018,” he says.

Yowies are an ape-like mythical creature, similar in some ways to the the Yeti or Abominable Snowman, said to live in the Australian outback.

Yowie chocolates first launched in Australia in 1995, quickly becoming the number one selling single confectionery for Cadbury.

A copyright dispute saw the chocolate-covered toys fade away. However, the Yowie Group bought the rights to the brand in 2012 during the Kraft takeover of Cadbury.

This article first appeared on Business Insider Australia, Australia’s most popular business news website. Follow Business Insider on Facebook or Twitter.