Hotel Chocolat post major half-year growth, as global sales rise

The Hotel Chocolat Group has posted its latest half year results, with half year pre-tax profits up 56% to £24 million, as the business continues to increase its global presence, writes Neill Barston.

According to its latest figures, which cover the 26 weeks ended December 26, revenues were also up 40% to £142.9 million, as well as EBITDA earnings up 35% to £33.8 million.

The business noted that there was strong sales growth reflecting growing brand appeal in the UK, US and Japan, including a 38% increase in active UK customer database to 2.3million.

In addition, there was also digitally-led growth in the US, as active customer numbers grew by 119% and Japanese joint-venture’s sales to consumers grew 131%, with the company observing that the impact of inflation on the business from wider rises in ingredients and other operating costs being mitigated by faster sale growth. Among its core achievements for the period was progress on its launch of a new ‘Gentle Farming’ approach for cocoa growing in Ghana.

Angus Thirlwell, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hotel Chocolat, said: “I am delighted that we have achieved a great set of results both in terms of sales and profits, indicating the global strength of the Hotel Chocolat brand and our direct-to-consumer business model. These results enable continued new job creation based in our British manufacturing operations, as well as roles in technology and multi-channel retailing.

“In the UK, we continued to entice many new customers to Hotel Chocolat, growing our active customer database by 38% to 2.3m. Our unparalleled pipeline of new product launches means I am confident we will be able to excite and retain their custom for many years ahead. In the US, our digital model drove an increase of 119% in our active customer database, with our Velvetiser in-home drinks system proving a great hit, and in Japan our customer database grew strongly, with the JV business now truly multi-channel, across online, digital partners, and 31 stores.

“A key personal highlight in the period took place in Ghana, where we launched our pioneering Gentle Farming programme, meeting with farming families, local community groups, and the government. Our programme funds an achievable decent living income, hand-in-hand with replanting indigenous trees to shade the cacao and regenerate biodiversity,” explained the CEO, who said that the last two years had been a period of global change, with the business evolving from being UK-store led, to a globally focused digitally-driven brand for luxury cacao products.

He noted that the team had successfully managed to adapt to the continuously changing landscape and we have remained focused on our opportunities, delivering a sustained acceleration in growth over the last 18 months.

The business added that its multi-channel performance continued to be encouraging, with its new markets showing further potential for growth and  and profitability.

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