Retail

Hotel Chocolat’s rise is down to bricks and mortar, says CEO Angus Thirlwell

By Anthony Myers contact

- Last updated on GMT

Hotel Chocolat’s co-founder and CEO Angus Thirlwell. Pic: Hotel Chocolat
Hotel Chocolat’s co-founder and CEO Angus Thirlwell. Pic: Hotel Chocolat

Related tags: Retailers, High street

Company’s co-founder believes there is still life in the high street and outlines plans for Hotel Chocolat’s expansion into Europe … and beyond.

Hotel Chocolat’s co-founder and CEO Angus Thirlwell believes that the focus on long-term wins has been the key to company’s phenomenal success.

Hotel Chocolat’s latest annual results revealed a 12% year-on-year growth with plans to open more of its ‘café plus shop’ locations on the British high street. There are now more than 100, with plans to open 15 a year.

Thirlwell said in an interview with thegrocer.co.uk​ that they are not only drawing in the coffee shop crowd, but delivering above-average retail sales and, as the company expands, you may see a Hotel Chocolate in locations away from the high street.

He also refutes the argument that high street retailers are unable to compete with online companies. “Many of the people who are suffering are doing so for reasons that were self-inflicted: not adapting, being in denial, not taking brave enough decisions. The online element was hardly a surprise. You can draw a very predictable gradient going back five years of what proportion of household expenditure was going to go online​,” he told thegrocer.co.uk.

High-quality chocolate

Thirlwell’s passion for high-quality chocolate is well-know – Hotel Chocolate products contain at least 36% cocoa content. When upmarket British supermarket Waitrose had the temerity to allegedly copy Hotel Chocolate’s slabs​, he wasted no time threatening legal action against the store and, after a tense standoff, Waitrose finally backed down and removed its offending slabs from sale.

In the wide-ranging interview, Thirlwell revealed that Hotel Chocolate has signed a deal to open franchise stores in Scandinavia, having dipped his toe into the water with a couple of Copenhagen stores that “got the results we wanted.​”

He also said Hotel Chocolate has plans to launch into another “significant market​”, outside of Europe, but at this stage would not reveal any further details.

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