Belfast Telegraph

Hotel Chocolat founders to share £40m flotation windfall

By Ben Woods

The founders of Hotel Chocolat will land £20m each when they float the company later this year.

The luxury chocolate maker, which has one store in Belfast, has pencilled in a listing on the junior AIM market between April and June, which is expected to value the firm at around £150m.

The chocolatier, which has 84 shops and cafes across the UK, including two shops in Denmark, is aiming to raise £50m.

Approximately £10m of this will be set aside for the company's expansion plans, with the remaining £40m divided between chief executive Angus Thirlwell and development director Peter Harris.

The firm said the move would help with plans to roll out more stores, bolster manufacturing capacity at its Huntingdon-based plant and overhaul its website.

Mr Thirlwell added: "We are very excited at the prospect of listing as it is the next logical step in our growth plans and will enable us to accelerate the many initiatives that we have in place, in particular additional investment in our British chocolate manufacturing, in new stores and in our digital offering."

Both Mr Thirlwell and Mr Harris are set to hold a majority stake in the business after the float takes place.

The company was founded in 1993 and has traded under the Hotel Chocolat brand since 2003.

It has about 500,000 online customers and had revenues of £81.1m to June 28 last year.

The company said it made around five million transactions over the period at an average value of £16 each, and is supported by 70,000 members of its chocolate tasting club. It also owns a chocolate plantation in the Rabot Estate in St Lucia.

Belfast Telegraph