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Hotel Chocolat enjoys online sales boost and vows to reopen all 125 stores

Simon Neville, PA City Editor
·2-min read

The boss of Hotel Chocolat has said all 125 stores will reopen once Covid-19 restrictions are eased and there no plans to shut any permanently.

Chief executive Angus Thirlwell said while he expects to see a slowdown in business at city centre and travel locations, stores could see a boost from home workers working more flexibly in future.

He told the PA news agency: “Some locations when we were allowed to reopen during the summer – mass transit and office-based city-centre stores were down, but the counterpoint is community-based high streets had a new lease of life and some were up on the previous year.

“More office-based and commuter locations could result in lower footfall but if people are going in two or three days a week, we expect to become destinations shoppers seek out.”

The comments come as Hotel Chocolat revealed sales were up 11% to £101.9 million in the second half of 2020 up to December 27 compared with the first half.

Chocolate Dreams: Inside Hotel Chocolat
Hotel Chocolat boss Angus Thirlwell believes stores will bounce back after lockdowns (BBC/PA)

Pre-tax profits rose 3% to £15.5 million compared with £15 million in the first six months of the year.

Strong online growth helped the company learn more about its customers and target products at them accordingly.

UK sales grew 12%, with online growth more than offsetting the reduction in stores being closed during national lockdowns and the tier restrictions during the autumn and winter months.

More than half of UK sales in the period came through online and the number of UK customers grew by 38%.

Growth was also strong in the smaller markets of the US and Japan – the latter saw 11 stores opened, bringing the total to 19.

Mr Thirlwell said the US and Japanese businesses could be used as a hub for the regions, with potential to expand to other nearby locations including Canada in North America, alongside China and Singapore in the Far East.

He added: “We will take a considered approach and see where works best for the brand.”