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6 October, 2021 - 13:30 By Tony Quested

No bar to chocolatier’s progress

Cambridge-based chocolatier and multi-channel retailer Hotel Chocolat Group saw its share price increase by 16p to 421p a share after posting massively higher revenue and profits for the year to June 27.

Revenue increased 21 per cent to £164.6 million – 70 per cent generated through digital, partners and continuity products.

Profit before tax and exceptional costs of £10.1m was almost five times the previous year’s and well ahead of market expectations.

The company reports a strong balance sheet position with net cash of £15.8m at September 26 and £45.8m headroom.

Sales in the US and Japan hit new highs and the company is also investing heavily in its UK manufacturing facilities and processes as well as its green credentials.

To that end, an equity placing in July raised £40m to fund further factory expansion and growth channels, which will support £500m of chocolate sales in three years.

Co-founder and CEO Angus Thirlwell, said: “These results show we have now evolved from a UK store-led brand to a globally ambitious digital-led brand. 

“FY21 was a year where Hotel Chocolat improved on many fronts. Our digital and subscription-continuity models surged ahead and our global aspirations racked up more strong growth    and progress.

“The continued challenges of COVID-19 pushed us to accelerate many of our existing plans and strategic initiatives, helping to strengthen our financial position, improve our multichannel capability, deepen customer engagement and loyalty, and accelerate the rate of product innovation, whilst continuing to make good progress in our two new and sizeable markets of the US and Japan.

“A real highlight was developing the new Hotel Chocolat Gentle Farming Charter, applying all we have learned by farming ourselves in Saint Lucia, to ensure all our farming families can earn a living income in return for climate-smart farming. 

“The living income takes into account actual family living costs and realistic farm output. In return for the higher price farmers commit to sustainable farming practices, planting of indigenous shade trees and zero illegal child labour.

“I am confident that the strategic progress we have achieved over the past year has improved the performance and prospects of the business for significant years to come.”

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