Hotel Chocolat reports record full-year profit

Kasmira Jefford
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HOTEL CHOCOLAT, the upmarket chocolatier, offered some hope to Britain’s beleaguered high streets this weekend after reporting record sales and profits.

The retailer and cocoa grower posted a 84 per cent leap in pre-tax profits to £5.4m on sales up six per cent to £63.8m in the year to 30 June 2012.

Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive said 2012 was a “coming of age” year for Hotel Chocolat.

“The record-breaking increase in profit before tax, achieved despite a modest seven per cent growth in net retailing space, is a testament to the investment we have put behind vertically integrating our business,” he said.

Thirwell founded Hotel Chocolat with with entrepreneur Peter Harris in 2004 after the pair rebranded their mail order firm, ChocExpress.

The company now operates 67 stores in the UK, two in the US and has expanded into Europe with two opening in Amsterdam and Copenhagen.

Like many retailers including WH Smith, Hotel Chocolat has been expanding into more lucrative travel locations, with store openings in London Luton airport, Kings Cross and Euston in the period.

Last year, the group also launched a chocolate-themed boutique hotel, spa and restaurant in Saint Lucia on the estate where some of its cocoa beans are grown.

The group is planning further store openings this year and the roll out of its new concept store Roast & Conch, where customers can watch the roasting of cocoa beans and also sample chocolate-themed dishes.

Commenting on 2013, Thirwell said: “Whilst we expect consumer pressures to persist in 2013, we believe our investment over the past few years leaves us well-placed for the year ahead.”