Belfast Telegraph

New cafe format 'working well' as Hotel Chocolat sees sales leap to £104m

Hotel Chocolat has served up a sweetened sales performance as it said a new cafe format and overhauled website helped boost trade.

The luxury chocolate chain posted a 12% jump in sales to £104 million on a comparable 52-week basis for the year to June 25, which it said was slightly ahead of City expectations.

It cheered a boost from 12 new store openings over the year, which contributed 5% sales growth, with eight of the new sites featuring a cafe.

Hotel Chocolat, which floated on London's junior AIM stock market last year, said the new shop and cafe format was "working well".

It is also adding a cafe to its Milton Keynes shop, which will open before the end of the month, in a move that will also test the impact on an existing store.

The firm added that customers were benefiting from an improved website for smartphone and tablet orders.

It also hailed "encouraging" results for new summer ranges, including cocoa-infused ice-cream - known as the Ice Cream Of The Gods - which is now on sale across 37 of its shops.

Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive of Hotel Chocolat, said the group has had "another good year, with encouraging growth".

"We are excited about the progress made with our new shop+cafe format stores and our seasonal ranges continue to perform well," he said.

Hotel Chocolat is set to report annual results on September 27.

Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb said the full-year sales update was "reassuring".

Founded in 1993, Hotel Chocolat also runs a hotel in St Lucia and restaurants in London and Leeds.