Financial results

Hotel Chocolat to pull out of North America as shares go into meltdown

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Hotel Chocolat co-founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell. Pic: Hotel Chocolate Group
Hotel Chocolat co-founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell. Pic: Hotel Chocolate Group

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Shares in the Hotel Chocolat have crashed by more than 40% after the Group announced it is closing all its stores in North America and writing off £3 million ($3.58m) from a business venture in Japan.

Despite a rebound in sales, co-founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell said in a statement the chocolatier will report a statutory loss for fiscal 2022, largely due to costs arising from discontinuing its activities in the US.

Thirlwell said the Group will move online only in America after shutting its five stores in a move affecting almost 50 staff.

Hotel Chocolat is continuing to open stores in the UK and Thirlwell said it is increasing its focus on its Velvetiser hot chocolate system and Velvetised chocolate cream alcohol. But he warned UK sales growth will be slower over the year ahead compared with the 35% rise seen last year.

Group turnover increased 37% year-on-year to £226 million in fiscal 2022, ahead of consensus expectations, according to Annual sales were 70% ahead of pre-pandemic turnover in 2019, the company said, adding that sales grew by nearly a third in the second half of the year.

"The Hotel Chocolat brand is achieving very strong growth in the UK, and we are pleased to have beaten sales expectations and expect to meet underlying profit expectations for FY22​,"  Thirlwell said.  "A year of exceptional sales growth following two years of reactionary tactics to the pandemic has left clear opportunities for us to proactively streamline overheads and improve gross margins​.”

Hotel Chocolat said it anticipates pre-tax profit for the year will be “in line with market consensus​”.

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