Hotel Chocolat throws down the gauntlet on the high street

The high street chocolate war is on, after Hotel Chocolat saw better financial results than Thorntons.

The 11-year old chocolatier announced that its pre-tax profits jumped to £8.3m in the six months to 28 December, with sales rising 9.5% to £47.2m.

Meanwhile, Thorntons issued a Christmas profit warning and pre-tax profits of £6.5m for the half-year to January 10. It also posted a fall in sales, down 8.2% to £128.2m for the period.

Hotel Chocolat’s chief executive and co-founder Angus Thirlwell said: “It’s about quality over quantity. Our big theme is healthy luxury, which is trying to reconcile hedonism and opulence and treating yourself with also being responsible.

“Cocoa is healthy, it’s just the sugar that’s not and we’re seeing that less sugar and more cocoa is really starting to resonate with people.”

The business found that stores at train stations had boosted sales, and it stated it would not start selling the brand though supermarkets.

Thorntons’ profit warning came after two major supermarkets reduced orders with the brand, and supplies were disrupted by problems at the firm’s new depot in Derbyshire.

Thirlwell stated that Hotel Chocolat still had ambitions to take on the US, adding that its own plantation and hotel in St Lucia had been particularly popular with Americans.

The brand has also set up concessions with John Lewis, and has 81 stores as of 28 December last year. 

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