Major update on future of Hotel Chocolat’s 131 shops after sale to M&M’s owner
A MAJOR update has been issued on the future of Hotel Chocolat’s 131 stores.
It comes after the posh chocolate chain was sold this morning to confectionary giant Mars.
The £534million deal is expected to close in the first few months of 2024.
Mars, which owns popular brands like M&M’s and Celebrations, revealed it’s planning to expand the posh chocolatier in the UK and overseas.
Now the confectionary giant has confirmed to UK Times that it will commit to keeping the doors open on Hotel Chocolat’s stores.
However, it did say that both companies will continue to regularly evaluate its portfolio of shops.
The chocolatier has 131 shops in the UK in total, as well as cafés, restaurants, outlets, and factory stores.
It also has sites in Gibraltar, Ireland and St Lucia.
Bosses insisted it’s not another Cadbury-Kraft situation and also committed to keeping the recipes the same.
Kraft, now known as Mondelez International, bought Cadbury back in 2010 for a whopping £11.5billion.
The takeover has ruffled a few Cadbury fans’ feathers since.
In 2015, chocolate lovers slammed Kraft for secretly changing the recipe of Cadbury’s Creme Egg.
And in 2017, chocolate lovers accused the US parent company of altering the taste of Mini Eggs.
But Hotel Chocolat fans needn’t worry because Mars has confirmed that the posh-chocs will remain unchanged following the takeover.
The Snickers owner said it even intends to continue to invest in the Hotel Chocolat Group’s UK store footprint including further store openings.
It also says it will keep the chocolatier’s factory space in Huntingdon and its headquarters in Royston.
Mars, which employs around 10,000 people in the UK, said Hotel Chocolat’s “luxury gifting and immersive brand experiences” will boost its own presence in those areas.
Andrew Clarke, global president of Mars Snacking, said: “The Mars and Hotel Chocolat businesses are highly complementary, and during the course of our discussions with Hotel Chocolat’s leadership it has also become clear that there is a very strong cultural fit – with purpose at the heart of both organisations, and a shared passion for quality and sustainability.”
Hotel Chocolat, which was founded by Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris in 1993, has been operating at a loss after big restructuring efforts last year which helped to bring down costs.
In September last year, it announced it was shutting all five of its shops in the US.
But it still operates online, selling popular items like its Velvetiser hot chocolate maker.
Earlier this year in January, it announced a new venture in Japan with Tokyo’s Eat Creator to open 21 Hotel Chocolat shops following the collapse of its first deal.
The group’s share price has suffered, trading almost a quarter lower for the past six months after two profit warnings earlier this year.
But in October, it announced sales had grown by more than a 10th in the three months to October and the stores opened this year have been performing better than expected.
Co-founder and chief executive, Angus Thirlwell said: “We know our brand resonates with consumers overseas, but operational supply chain challenges have held us back.
“By partnering with Mars, we can grow our international presence much more quickly using their skills, expertise and capabilities.”
The chocolatier is known for its premium treats, advent calendars and gifts, which are also available online.
In other acquisition news, high-street street fashion chain FatFace, which has 180 stores across the UK, has been sold to Next.
It was acquired by Next for the value of £115.2million.
And, ScS chain has been sold to a new owner in a deal worth £100million.
The company, which has more than 100 stores across the UK, is being taken over by Italian furniture retailer Poltronesofa.
Meanwhile, B&M shoppers are rushing to buy a dupe of the Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser that’s £75 cheaper.
Plus, there is a little-known shop where you can get Christmas chocolate including Hotel Chocolat at hugely discounted prices.
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