British chocolatier Hotel Chocolat has said it is "quietly confident" for the year ahead after posting increased revenue for the six months to 25 December.
Total group revenue for the period was up 16.2 per cent compared with the prior year, or 14.6 per cent on a constant currency basis.
The chocolatier opened 10 new stores during the six months, double the amount it originally anticipated, to bring its total up to 90. Seven of the new shops included the company's new signature drinks offer.
Its share price fell initially, before rising more than one per cent in early trading.
Trading since December is in line with expectations.
Why it's interesting
The business was able to open more shops than expected because of its heightened profile since flotation last year and the new opportunities opened by its signature drinks offering, Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive, said.
Retail growth was driven by increased footfall, with customers choosing to buy more and higher-priced items. Sales of Hotel Chocolat's hampers, which cost between £50 and £500, were up 80 per cent, Thirlwell told City A.M.
The chocolate maker's new website went live in January as it works to reel in more smartphone and tablet sales.
What Hotel Chocolat said
The growing strength of the Hotel Chocolat brand has enabled us to perform well. Our seasonal ranges included many new innovations and our cafe drinks offer adds a new dimension to our experience.
Being a UK manufacturer gave us the flexibility to maintain good stock availability right up to the end of the season.
He added that because 97 per cent of the company's products are manufactured in the UK, import costs have little effect on the company and enable it to make sure its pricing structure remains stable.
What analysts said
Analysts at Liberum said the trading update bodes well for full-year expectations:
Hotel Chocolat has delivered a strong trading update, a strengthening from the last time we heard from the group at the time of its prelims. While we leave our forecasts unchanged, we have increased confidence.