Hotel Chocolat Group PLC – HOTC – Trading Update

Hotel Chocolat Group PLC – HOTC – Trading Update

Hotel Chocolat, the premium British chocolatier, today provides an update on its trading performance for the eight-week period ended 25 April 2021. The period includes Mother's Day and Easter and represents the second-largest seasonal peak for the business.

Despite physical retail locations in England being closed for six weeks during the period, including for both Mother's Day and Easter, the Group's revenue increased 60 percent compared to the prior year (during which physical retail locations were closed for 5 weeks, however, were open for Mother's Day). The Group's revenue for the eight-week period is also 19 percent higher than the comparative eight-week period in 2019, being the most recent comparable pre-Covid trading period during which all physical retail locations in England were open.

The Group's revenue growth during the eight-week period ended 25 April 2021 was driven largely by its digital channels and subscription products which further demonstrates the strength of the Company's omni-channel sales model. Since the re-opening of physical retail locations in England on 12 April 2021, sales across all the Company's channels have been encouraging. The Board now expects trading for the full year ending 27 June 2021 to be significantly ahead of expectations.

Recognising the resilience of the Group's performance, the Board has committed to repay the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) funding received from the UK Government this financial year. The c.£3.1 million cost of the repayment will be accrued in the 2021 results.

 

Comparison of Covid restrictions on physical retail locations in England during the eight-week period

2021

All closed for 6 weeks until 12 April (closed for Mother's Day & Easter)

2020

All closed for 5 weeks from 23 March (open for Mother's Day, closed for Easter)

2019

N/A - All locations open

 

Angus Thirlwell, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hotel Chocolat, said: 

"In the past year, we have added over one million customers to our database, an increase of 47 percent. Our strong Easter is entirely thanks to them.

"It feels great to have our physical locations back open again and we have a strong pipeline of exciting new products to launch over the summer, including our Rabot Estate Coffee brand, Strawberries & Cream iced chocolate drinks for our Velvetiser system, and Neapolitan chocolate macarons for al-fresco dining.

"I'm pleased we are able to look forward to further growth and significant investment this year with strong job creation, particularly in our UK chocolate making and supply teams as we turn on extra capacity for our creamy tasting vegan Nutmilk chocolate, our globally popular chocolate macarons, and our Velvetiser flakes for drinking chocolate.

"I would like to commend our team on the commitment, dynamism and creativity they have all shown during the pandemic. They have not only adapted the business to the challenges we faced but have strengthened the brand and accelerated our business model and future growth prospects."

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