Hotel Chocolat this week reported pre-tax profits up by 28% following strong growth across sales channels.
The omnichannel chocolate manufacturer and retailer, a Top100 retailer in IRUK Top500
research, this week reported pre-tax sales of £62.5m in the six months to December 25, 14% more than at the same time last year, while pre-tax profits of £11.2m were 28% up on last time.
The retailer says that a faster new website, launched in January, has driven strong conversion, especially via mobile. Shoppers also spend more time on the site. This helped boost web sales by 23%, with a strong boost to customer numbers. But a 6% decline in subscription-based Tasting Club sales meant that overall digital sales grew more slowly, by 11%. Development of the Tasting Club will now focus on the online customer experience as well as taking product dispatch in-house, rather than outsourcing as previously. "A new subscriptions clubs team is now in place to add focus and drive behind this important channel," the company said.
Meanwhile Hotel Chocolat's focus on expanding via stores as well as online meant it opened 10 new shops during the half-year, of which seven had some form of café, ranging from a takeaway cafe at Euston station to a 50-seat café in Worcester that includes a separate space for "tasting experiences".
Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive officer of Hotel Chocolat , said: "This has been another period of good progress for Hotel Chocolat with strong growth in both sales and profitability. The critical Christmas period was very successful, helped by good availability, popular and innovative new ranges and significantly increased digital transactions.
"We have strong plans in place for the key spring seasons of Mother's Day and Easter and are confident of further progress.
"I would like to thank everyone in the HC team for continuing to work tirelessly to build the business and strengthen our brand.
"We continue to make good headway against our three key strategic objectives of opening more stores, improving our digital capability and increasing our production capacity."
The retailer and manufacturer has also moved to take control of its supply chain, buying Hotel Chocolat Estates, with a 140-acre Rabot Estate
in St Lucia, in early 2016, in order to produce its own cocoa.