Hotel Chocolat reports strong online trading

Hotel Chocolat has reported profit before tax ahead of market expectations and rising sales thanks to its online strategy.
Group trading is currently in line with management’s expectations.
// Hotel Chocolat reports a rise in profits ahead of its board’s initial expectations
// 70% of all sales were driven by the retailer’s digital channels, partners and “continuity products”

Hotel Chocolat has reported profit before tax ahead of market expectations and rising sales as its online strategy helped protect it from Covid-19 store closures.

In its preliminary results for the 52 weeks to June 27, the retailer reported profit before tax and exceptional costs of £10 million – up from £2.4 million last year and ahead of market expectations.

In addition, revenue increased by 21 per cent to £164.6 million despite stores being closed or disrupted for six months of the period due to Covid-19 restrictions.

However, the retailer said over 70 per cent of its revenue came from digital, continuity products and partners in the period.

When UK stores reopened in April, Hotel Chocolat said “sales growth accelerated further” across all channels, reinforcing the importance of its “multichannel sales model”.

During the period, the business continued to innovate by launching new Velvetiser flavours, enhanced gifting ranges, and a new Rabot Estate Coffee range of coffee.

Hotel Chocolat chief executive Angus Thirlwell said: “These results show we have now evolved from a UK store-led brand to a globally ambitious digital-led brand. FY21 was a year where Hotel Chocolat improved on many fronts. Our digital and subscription-continuity models surged ahead and our global aspirations racked up more strong growth and progress.

“The continued challenges of Covid-19 pushed us to accelerate many of our existing plans and strategic initiatives, helping to strengthen our financial position, improve our multichannel capability, deepen customer engagement and loyalty, and accelerate the rate of product innovation, whilst continuing to make good progress in our two new and sizeable markets of the USA and Japan.”

During the year, Hotel Chocolat developed its new Hotel Chocolat Gentle Farming Charter, which aims to enable every farmer that supplies Hotel Chocolat to earn a living income in return for “climate-smart” farming.  

Looking at current trading, the retailer said it was in line with management expectations for the first 13 weeks of the new financial year.

Thirlwell added: “I am confident that the strategic progress we have achieved over the past year has improved the performance and prospects of the business for significant years to come.”

“Finally, I would like to thank our colleagues for their hard work during the year. I am incredibly proud of how Hotel Chocolat has adapted to the disruption caused by Covid-19 and I would like to also thank our customers for their continued loyalty, and our partners for their collaboration.”

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