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Subscriptions, loyalty and multichannel give Hotel Chocolat a Christmas boost

Image courtesy of Hotel Chocolat

Subscriptions, loyalty and a multichannel sales model all helped to give Hotel Chocolat sales a strong boost across its markets over Christmas.

The retailer, ranked Top50 in RXUK Top500 research, says that most of its subscriptions now start when customers buy its hot chocolate and coffee machines.

Hotel Chocolat, which makes and sells its own chocolates, said that UK sales grew by 38% thanks to both its multichannel sales model and the strength of its brand in the market. At the same time, it grew its active customer numbers by 38%.

In Japan, multichannel underpinned growth of 131%, with a 1000% growth in active customer numbers – to more than 100,000 – since it launched its VIP Loyalty scheme in the market 14 months ago. And in the US, a digital-first strategy helped it grow sales by 128% while active customer numbers grew by 119%.

Group revenue grew by 37% in the second quarter, the 13 weeks to December 26 2021, compared to the same time last year, and by 63% on the same period two years ago – before the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on its business.

In the first half of the year, group revenue was 40% ahead of the previous year, and 56% up on the same period two years earlier.

Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive of Hotel Chocolat, says: “These results demonstrate that the Hotel Chocolat brand is connecting with more customers, as we invest continually in new product creativity, driving growth across channels and categories, and in our ’gentle farming’ initiative supporting cacao-farming families.

“All of our six growth drivers are behind the acceleration in sales: Velvetiser in-home drinks system, VIP Loyalty rewards, and digital, whilst the USA, Global Wholesale, and the Japan joint venture are finding the formula for sustained growth, and our UK domestic market still has huge potential.

“Our Velvetiser in-home drinks system was a star performer during the period. The majority of our subscription customers are now coming from our popular hot chocolate and coffee machines and drinks. We invested in refreshing our key chocolate gift ranges in the period and that resulted in an immediate and strong uplift in sales, particularly the higher price-point categories.

“We are incredibly grateful to both our new and long-established direct customers who support us and there’s been an exceptional team effort from the worldwide Hotel Chocolat family, who made these results happen, whilst always upholding our Hotel Chocolat values.”

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