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The price of shares in AIM-listed retailer Hotel Chocolat (LON:HOTC) increased by 2.70% to 380p (as of 14:35 BST) as revenues for the year ended 30th June rose by 14%. Profits before tax were up by 14.1%, despite a fall in gross margins due to a shifting channel mix, foreign exchange movements, and costs associated with the launch of customer loyalty schemes.
CEO Angus Thirwell commented: “I am pleased to report another year of significant progress for the Group with profits growing slightly ahead of expectations. In the UK, our physical locations performed well, reflecting their allure and relevance. Growth was underpinned by the combination of leisure, gifts and experiences including Chocolate Lock-in tastings, as well as new ranges of drinks and chocolate-dipped ice lollies. The launch of the innovative Velvetiser, our in-home hot chocolate system, supported strong sales growth and received fantastic customer reviews. Our new VIP ME loyalty scheme attracted over 900,000 active members during the period and we continued to bring new and exciting products to market.
“Profit from existing Group operations increased faster than sales growth, enabling us to invest in new markets. We are confident that our international expansion will continue to develop well. Our focus on USA and Japan, two of the three largest economies in the world, led to four locations opening, with a further five opening over the next six months. The brand, what it stands for, and our “More Cacao Less Sugar” taste have proven attractive in Tokyo and New York, as well as our refreshing price versus quality ratio.
“Key imminent product launches include exciting new Velvetiser chocolate flavours, including Maple & Pecan and Gingerbread, and Dark Mint Chocolate Cream Liqueur, followed by new variants of a product the Japanese in particular have fallen in love with, the all-Chocolate Macaron.
“I would like to thank the whole team for their fantastic work, delivering a strong set of results for the year, while at the same time opening up multiple avenues for future growth“.
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