Hotel Chocolat takes full control of beauty range Rabot 1745

Luxury chocolate maker Hotel Chocolat has agreed to acquire the 53 per cent stake that it doesn’t own in its award-winning beauty range, Rabot 1745.

Rabot 1745 was established in 2016 to develop a beauty product range inspired by Hotel Chocolat’s cacao farm and rainforest spa retreat in St Lucia
Rabot 1745 was established in 2016 to develop a beauty product range inspired by Hotel Chocolat’s cacao farm and rainforest spa retreat in St Lucia

Rabot 1745 was established in 2016 as a joint venture between the group and Andrew Gerrie (its non-executive chairman) to develop a beauty product range inspired by Hotel Chocolat’s cacao farm and rainforest spa retreat in St Lucia.

The price paid was just £4 - less than the price of a box of its luxury chocolates - but Hotel Chocolat will pay off the £744,000 loan that Mr Gerrie provided to Rabot 1745. The cheapest box of chocolates on Hotel Chocolat’s website is £5.

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Rabot 1745 made a loss of around £400,000 last year.

Mr Gerrie will receive around £3 for his 40 per cent stake in the business, with the rest of the investors sharing about £1 between them.

The £744,000 loan will be paid off with some 200,000 shares in Hotel Chocolat, increasing Mr Gerrie’s stake by around 40 per cent.

The company said it is well placed to leverage the value of Rabot 1745’s inventory and develop its beauty products, which have attracted multiple awards and favourable customer reviews.

Analyst Wayne Brown at Liberum, said: “The move to full ownership will: (i) allow the group to continue to develop its successful, award-winning beauty range, which is particularly popular across its UK channels, St Lucia and Japan; (ii) support an ongoing brand-enhancing, point of differentiation versus other chocolate players; and (iii) allow the integration of operations to bring synergies that should see Rabot begin to turn a profit versus the current slight loss.”

Hotel Chocolat’s Yorkshire stores have proved very popular and the firm reported a “storming” performance from its Yorkshire stores after they reopened in April.

The group has sites in York, Harrogate, Leeds, Beverley and Sheffield and is on the hunt for more sites in Yorkshire market towns.

The group’s Rabot 1745 beauty range, which includes hand creams, body butters, fragranced candles, diffusers, body and pillow mists, lip balms and two eau de parfums, has proved a good sideline for the firm alongside its luxury chocolate range.

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

The group reported 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.

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.

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, which ends on June 27, to be significantly ahead of expectations.