Hotel Chocolat posts drop in half year sales and profit
Hotel Chocolat has posted a drop in half year sales and profit following a significant deterioration in international sales.
In the 26 weeks to 25 December, group revenue declined to £129.8 million from £142.9 million while underlying pre-tax profit fell to £10.2 million from £25.4 million a year earlier.
Revenue in the UK and Ireland dropped by 5% in the period, but sales in Japan, the US and St Lucia fell by 90%, 94% and 48% respectively.
While stores performed well in the period, online revenues were lower year-on-year due to more customer returning to physical shops and a strategically lower marketing spend.
Hotel Chocolat has previously announced that it will be taking time this year to sharpen its operating model before embarking on the next stage of growth.
In a statement on these latest results, the company’s founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell said: “Our adapted plan for international growth – to pursue the proven brand appeal with low risk-low capex operating models – is making sound progress. In Japan, a new strategic partnership was signed and in the US our planning is looking encouraging. Our Saint Lucian cacao agro-tourism business drove revenues up 46%, with our 6-acre Project Chocolat visitor attraction the star performer.”
The company now sees scope for a further 50 Hotel Chocolat stores over the next three to five years with the first tranche planned for this autumn. It said its new ‘store of the future’ design has been successful in test locations.
Thirlwell added: “The group continues to trade in line with market expectations for sales though as previously guided, we remain cautious about consumer sentiment over the upcoming seasonal events of Mother’s Day, Easter, Eid and Father’s Day. Depending on the Easter performance, there is a range of pre-tax outcomes between £4 million and £7 million for the full year.”
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