Hotel Chocolat was this week focused on expanding across channels as it unveiled rising sales and profits in the first half of its financial year.
The omnichannel retailer, a Top50 trader in IRUK Top500 research, reported revenues of £71.7m in the six months to December 31. That’s 15% up on the same time last year. Pre-tax profits of £12.9m were also 15% ahead.
The retailer said it had seen strong sales across its own stores, digital and corporate channels. Website sales grew by 16%, year-on-year, benefitting from strong mobile growth following the launch of its new mobile-optimised website, launched in January 2017. Mobile and tablet traffic now accounts for 62% of all web traffic, while mobile conversion rose by 19%, from 2.6% to 3.1%. Hotel Chocolat also supplied wholesale to online retailers including Amazon and Ocado, contributing 6% to digital growth. During the half-year it opened 10 new stores, boosting sales growth by 5%.
The retailer also grew its subscription business with the launch of a weekly Mbox, an alternatively to the monthly Tasting Club. The new box, said the retailer, was "the most convenient was to receive a personal supply of Hotel Chocolat’s most popular recipes each week in individually wrapped portions".
Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive of Hotel Chocolat , said: "This has been another period of strong progress for Hotel Chocolat with growth in both sales and profits. The critical Christmas period was again successful, helped by further improvements in availability, our best ever seasonal range and the extension of our one-stop gift solutions range. We have exciting plans in place for the key spring seasons of Mother’s Day and Easter, and have recently launched a new cacao beauty range and a weekly subscription called Mbox. We are confident of further progress during the year.
He said recent trading, including the Valentine’s period, was in line with the board’s expectations and that the business continued "to make good progress against our three key strategic objectives of opening more stores, improving our digital capability and increasing our production capacity".