Hotel Chocolat calls for rent cuts

Hotel Chocolats co-founder and chief executive, Angus Thirlwell
Hotel Chocolats co-founder and chief executive, Angus Thirlwell
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Hotel Chocolat is asking landlords for clauses in rent renegotiations that match any rent cuts pushed through by rivals via a popular form of insolvency.

Company Voluntary Arrangements (CVAs), where a retailer asks landlords for a rent cut to avoid going bust, has been a popular route out of difficulties for struggling high street chains.

Hotel Chocolat’s co-founder and chief executive, Angus Thirlwell, said he was fed up with getting “penalised for being successful” by subsiding rent cuts for others, and called for “fairness” from landlords.

He said: “We didn’t think it was right that this was happening – businesses shouldn’t be penalised for being successful. We are growing and want to continue opening in new locations but in a long term sustainable, careful and measured way.”

The retailer, which has 127 stores across the country, has managed to hold up well in tough high street conditions, banking a £14m pre-tax profit in the year to June 30, with sales rising 14 per cent to £132.5m.

In renegotiations with landlords over rents, the company has started calling for clauses that say if a near-neighbour store goes through a CVA process and enjoys a cut in rent, Hotel Chocolat should too.

Retailers and landlords have been through heated battles in recent years, with CVAs staving off some store closures.