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Hotel Chocolat profits surge on growing popularity in US and Japan

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Hotel Chocolat reported a 38% increase in active customer database in the UK. Photo: Doug Peters/PA
Hotel Chocolat reported a 38% increase in active customer database in the UK. Photo: Doug Peters/PA

Hotel Chocolat reported another strong trading period on Wednesday for the chocolate maker despite wider inflationary pressures as profit grew faster than sales growth.

Profits at the British chocolatier rose 56% to £24.1m ($32m) in the six months to 26 December, following a brand appeal increase in key markets like the UK, Japan and the US. This was up from £15.5m a year earlier.

The company's revenue surged 40% to £142.9m, bringing with it a strong balance sheet with a £53.8m net cash.

Underlying EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax deprecation, and amortisation) – a measure of a firm's overall performance – grew 35%, from £24.9m to £33.8m.

"The multi-channel performance of the UK remains encouraging, and the new markets continue to show promising potential for growth and profitability," said CEO Angus Thirlwell, who co-founded the business in 1993 and owns 27% of the equity.

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It reported a big boost from key home and overseas markets. Hotel Chocolat reported a 38% increase in active customer database in the UK, while in the US customer numbers surged by 119% following the boom of Velvetiser drinks.

Japan’s consumer sales also skyrocketed, growing by 131%

"The last two years have been a period of very significant change both globally and within the business as we have evolved from a UK store-led brand to a globally ambitious digital-led brand with a broad-range of luxury cacao products," Thirwall added.

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Thirlwell also noted the work the retailer has been doing in Ghana with its ‘Gentle Farming’ sustainability programme.

“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,” he said.

The company said that trading so far this year has continued to be in line with the board's expectations.

"A focus on bringing happiness through chocolate in every aspect of our business model will further strengthen and nurture the appeal of our brand, helping us achieve our goal of becoming the leading global direct-to-consumer premium chocolate brand," Thirwell said.

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