Chocolate lock-ins were among the new reasons that Hotel Chocolat gave shoppers to come into its stores during its latest financial year. Chilled chocolate drinks and Cocoa Beer also helped to attract visitors to its shops. At the same time, says the omnichannel retailer, it added 200,000 new online customers.
In a year-end trading update, chief executive and co-founder Angus Thirlwell said it had had "another strong year".
Sales across all channels reached £116m in the 12 months to July 1, a rise of 12% compared to the previous year, ended July 2 2017. Pre-tax profits are expected to be in line with market expectations, while trading since the year end was also as expected.
During the year the retailer opened 15 stores, which boosted group sales by 6%. It also added 200,000 new online buyers and developed "a number of innovative new products for the upcoming autumn-winter season".
Co-founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell said: "While there has been considerable recent media coverage of retail generally, we are encouraged by the performance of both our new and existing locations. Customers are continuing to respond well to our luxury brand and lifestyle propositions. During the recent heatwave in the UK, our new Chilled Chocolate drinks, unique Chocs to Chill, Ice Cream of the Gods and improved Cocoa Beers have been very popular.
"The deep knowledge of our School of Chocolate-trained retail teams and our experiential Chocolate Lock-in sessions continue to underpin the allure of our multichannel model."
Hotel Chocolat, a Top50 retailer in IRUK Top500 research, bought its own cocoa plantation, the Rabot Estate in St Lucia, in 2016 as it looked to take control of its supply chain. It has focused on the store experience, opening cafés in a number of stores, as well as selling online.
Image courtesy of Hotel Chocolat