It is to add a fourth chocolate-making production line, which would increase its capacity by 30%. Hotel Chocolat said it expected this project to be completed by 2021, although it did mean an extension to its factory roofline would be postponed.
The business also announced the completion of a £1.4m project to increase its molten chocolate handling capacity by 190%. It also identified waste reduction as a priority for the business.
This comes after its revenue rose 11% year-on-year from £105.2m to £116.3m in the 52 weeks to 1 July 2018. Its profit after tax was up 14% to £10m from £8.8m in the previous year. The business cited wholesale partnerships signed during the year with Amazon, Ocado and QVC as one of the reasons behind this success, as well as growth in online sales.
It also unveiled plans to expand its international presence following successes in Denmark and Hong Kong. Hotel Chocolat signed a franchise development agreement to cover all of Scandinavia, a lease to open a store in New York, and a franchise joint venture development agreement for Japan, with a view to opening a store in Tokyo later in the year.
Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive officer of Hotel Chocolat, said: “The encouraging performance of our UK channels means we remain confident of further growth, with an exciting range of new product innovations for this autumn, including our Chocolat Cream Liqueur and the Velvetiser in-home Hot Chocolat system.
“We are increasingly confident that international expansion presents a growth opportunity, and will be adopting a cautious ‘test, learn, grow’ approach to our new partnership in Scandinavia and our new ventures in the US and Japan, where we intend to open our first stores this winter.”