Hotel Chocolat reports "storming" Yorkshire sales after shops reopened

Luxury chocolate maker Hotel Chocolat said it has seen a "storming" performance from its Yorkshire stores after they reopened last month.

Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive of Hotel Chocolat

The firm also reported a strong rise in sales as people flocked to its website to buy Mother's Day and Easter presents during lockdown

The group saw a 60 per cent rise in revenue in the eight weeks to April 25, which included both Mother’s Day and Easter and represents the second-largest seasonal peak after Christmas. This was despite physical retail locations in England being closed for six weeks during the period.

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The group’s revenue for the eight week period was 19 per cent higher than the comparative eight week period in 2019, being the most recent comparable pre-Covid trading period during which all physical retail locations in England were open.

Revenue growth was driven largely by digital channels and subscription products. The firm said this demonstrates the strength of its omni-channel sales model.

Since the reopening of physical retail locations in England on April 12, Hotel Chocolat reported encouraging sales across all of its sales channels.

Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive of Hotel Chocolat, said: “Since re-opening on April 12, our Yorkshire stores have been storming.

"We are always on the lookout for new and exciting locations across Yorkshire.”

The board now expects trading for the full year ending June 27 to be significantly ahead of expectations.

Recognising the resilience of its performance, the firm has committed to repay the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) funding received from the UK Government this financial year. The £3.1m cost of the repayment will be accrued in the 2021 results.

Mr Thirlwell said: “In the past year, we have added over one million customers to our database, an increase of 47 per cent. Our strong Easter is entirely thanks to them.

“It feels great to have our physical locations back open again and we have a strong pipeline of exciting new products to launch over the summer, including our Rabot Estate Coffee brand, Strawberries & Cream iced chocolate drinks for our Velvetiser system, and Neapolitan chocolate macarons for al-fresco dining.

“I’m pleased we are able to look forward to further growth and significant investment this year with strong job creation, particularly in our UK chocolate making and supply teams as we turn on extra capacity for our creamy tasting vegan Nutmilk chocolate, our globally popular chocolate macarons, and our Velvetiser flakes for drinking chocolate.

“I would like to commend our team on the commitment, dynamism and creativity they have all shown during the pandemic. They have not only adapted the business to the challenges we faced but have strengthened the brand and accelerated our business model and future growth prospects.”