Hotel Chocolat CEO Angus Thirlwell says the move will bring its premium products to the global stage, with Mars planning to scale the business across both UK and international markets
A Hotel Chocolat store in Cardiff, UK | Photo credit: via Shutterstock
US confectionery giant Mars has gained a significant foothold in the UK premium chocolate and coffee market after acquiring Hotel Chocolat for £534m ($679m).
In a press release Virginia-based Mars said it will provide Hotel Chocolat with an enhanced platform for growth, with plans to scale across the UK and explore further international expansion.
“Hotel Chocolat is a brand we have admired for many years, with its leading premium product offering, world-class quality and deep omnichannel retail expertise. We are incredibly excited to partner with the Hotel Chocolat team to achieve further growth and success in the years ahead,” said Andrew Clarke, Global President, Mars Snacking.
Founded in 1993, Hotel Chocolat began selling chocolate products online that year – making it one of the UK’s earliest e-tailers. The brand opened its first retail outlet in 2004 and its debut café in 2010. The luxury chocolate brand currently operates 135 stores across the UK and Ireland, 53 of which include a Hotel Chocolat café. Its café beverage menu includes a range of hot chocolates, coffee and chocolate shakes, with the sites also selling ice cream and cakes.
Hotel Chocolat opened retail stores in Denmark, Hong Kong and the US between 2015-2018. However, its current international presence comprises 20 stores in Japan, a single site in Gibraltar and a hotel in St Lucia, where Hotel Chocolat operates a cacao farm.
“Today marks a new and exciting chapter in Hotel Chocolat’s history which will see us join the Mars family, bringing our premium brand to the global stage. We have found a true meeting of minds in Mars – built on strong cultural values similar to our own, bold strategy and long-term stewardship – and I look forward to seeing the business climb to new heights,” said Angus Thirlwell, CEO and Founder, Hotel Chocolat.
Hotel Chocolat posted annual revenues of £204.5m ($260m) for the 53 weeks ended 2 July 2023.
With an annual turnover of $47bn, Mars manages a formidable portfolio of brands under its Snacking and Food divisions, including the Mars, Galaxy, Maltesers, M&Ms, Skittles, Snickers and Wrigleys confectionary ranges and Ben’s Original and Dolmio cooking sauces. Mars also operates a Petcare segment which includes well-known brands such as Dreamies, Pedigree and Whiskas.
Mars Drinks, which comprised the Flavia and Klix office coffee and vending systems, was sold to Lavazza for a reported $650m in December 2018 and rebranded Lavazza Professional.