// Hotel Chocolat CEO Angus Thirlwell promises to reopen all stores after lockdown, with no plans to permanently shut any
// Sales were up 11% to £101.9m in the second half of 2020, compared with the first half
// Pre-tax profits also rose 3% to £15.5m compared with £15m in the first six months of the year
The chief executive of Hotel Chocolat has said all 125 stores will reopen once Covid-19 restrictions are eased and that there no plans to shut any permanently.
Angus Thirlwell said while he expected to see a slowdown in business at city centre and travel locations, stores could see a boost from home workers working more flexible office hours in the future.
“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,” he told PA Wires.
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“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 news comes as Hotel Chocolat revealed sales were up 11 per cent to £101.9 million in the second half of 2020 ending December 27, compared with the first half.
Pre-tax profits also rose three per cent to £15.5 million compared with £15 million in the first six months of the year.
Strong online growth helped the chocolate retailer learn more about its customers and target products at them accordingly.
UK sales grew 12 per cent, with online growth offsetting stores that had shut 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 per cent.
Growth was also strong in the smaller markets of the US and Japan – the latter saw 11 stores opened, bringing the total to 19.
Thirlwell said Hotel Chocolat’s 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.
“We will take a considered approach and see where works best for the brand,” he said.
with PA Wires