What a sweet move... Hotel Chocolat chooses Northern Ireland site for first Irish cafe
Hotel Chocolat is to open its first cafe in Ireland in Belfast city centre, it can be revealed.
The top-end chocolate business already has one of its traditional shops at Victoria Square, selling a wide range of chocolates and Easter eggs.
But it is understood to be launching its first cafe here - serving coffee, chocolate and ice cream - at Wellington Place. There are currently 13 Hotel Chocolat cafes across the UK.
A spokeswoman for Hotel Chocolat said: "Our cafes are a new concept that brings together everything we do under one roof - from cocoa-growing and chocolate-making to innovative new cocoa-based drinks and food.
"Hotel Chocolat set out to make British chocolate exciting again. Now we are going one step further, creating cafe spaces to relax, refuel and be restored.
"A revolution in cafe culture, customers can explore our award-winning Hot Chocolat, available in eight different chocolate types.
"Our cafe will also serve a range of coffee chocolat lattes, where coffee meets chocolate, frappes and our revolutionary new Ice Cream of the Gods."
The cafes offer a luxury range of sweets, including a series of brownies. That includes lemon and pistachio, toasted coconut and maple, and pecan.
In its results, reported in October, the firm said "hedonistic chocolate" has helped drive up sales and profits. The chain said sales rose 12% to £91.1m in the year to June 26, with pre-tax profits up from £2.9m to £8.2m.
The group, which listed on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market in May, said sweet treats made with less sugar were also proving popular.
"We see an increasing trend that consumers want uncompromisingly delicious and hedonistic chocolate that's also made with responsible amounts of sugar", Hotel Chocolat said.
Founded in 1993, Hotel Chocolat has 81 stores, a hotel in St Lucia and restaurants in London and Leeds.
The group also benefited from a Father's Day campaign, Better Than Socks, and plans to launch a new website next year.
Just last month, the Belfast Telegraph reported on Hotel Chocolat's mammoth £75 Easter egg. An enquiry about its flagship Classic Ostrich Egg revealed the milk chocolate versions were already sold out.
Weighing in at 1.1kg, the milk egg, is made with 40% milk chocolate with crunchy cookies and puffed rice, and 50% milk chocolate with crispy feuilletine.
The dark version is made with 70% dark chocolate, with almonds and a dash of salt, and dark chocolate with hazelnuts.