Hotel Chocolat to focus on digital strategy as revenues rise 21%

Premium chocolate and coffee retailer reports strong full-year sales, fuelled by multichannel revenue growth in the UK, US and Japan 

A Hotel Chocolat store in Cardiff | Photo credit: via Shutterstock

Hotel Chocolat has outlined ambitions to grow from a ‘UK store-led brand to a globally ambitious digital-led brand' following positive full-year sales. 

Reporting its full-year results for the 52 weeks ended 27 June 2021, the company said revenues increased 21% to £164.6m ($223.6m), compared to £136.3m ($185.2m) for the same period in 2020. 

Profit before tax rose 318% to £10.1m during the period but remained below the £14.1m earned before the pandemic in 2019. 

Demonstrating the impact of Covid-19 on its operations, the company said more than 70% of revenues were generated via digital channels subscriptions and partner sales.  

In its native UK market, where Hotel Chocolat operates 124 boutique stores, 42 cafés, five ‘School of Chocolate’ premium café concepts and a hotel, sales increased 22% despite retail stores being closed for almost six months over the last year.  

In 2022, Hotel Chocolat plans to open two new UK stores and move three existing stores to larger locations as retail store sales continue to rebound from the pandemic. Further highlighting growth in its digital channels, the company’s active customer database increased 31% to 1.8 million over the period.

Hotel Chocolat also reported increased international retail sales and outlet growth. In Japan, consumer sales rose 239%, with 21 new stores opened over the period for a total of 27 locations.  

Meanwhile, in the US the company said it had focused on a ‘digital-led’ approach, which drove 63% full-year consumer sales growth. 

Underlining the rise of at-home coffee during the pandemic, the boutique retailer also announced plans to launch a new coffee range in 2022, including recyclable pods and coffee machines. 

Looking to the year ahead, Hotel Chocolat said it had increased manufacturing capacity by 66%, sufficient to drive chocolate sales of £250m. A further £40m investment secured in 2021 will enable the company to further expand its operations to support £500m sales.  

Founded in London in 2004, Hotel Chocolat is a premium retailer of cacao and coffee products. The company operates a portfolio of nearly 200 chocolate shops, cafés, restaurants and a hotel across the UK, Japan and the US.  

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