As Hotel Chocolat prepares to launch a range of health and beauty products under its own Cocoa Juvenate label next month, Retail Week takes a look at some of the finer details of the quirky chocolatier.
It started online: The chocolatier has an unusual business model in that it is one of the few high street retailers to have moved from a pureplay to a significant physical operator with 65 stores. Founded by Angus Thirlwell – who revealed in a recent interview he was once mistaken for Sting – and Peter Harris, the business rebranded from Choc Express to Hotel Chocolat to open its first store in Watford in 2003. It also has a successful Chocolate Tasting Club service which sends out boxes of chocolates to customers featuring new products each month.
It’s gone international: The company opened its first store in Denmark in Copenhagen last week as part of an international expansion strategy. The 2,000 sq ft store, its largest yet, is the first of its Roast + Conch format – which combines making and selling chocolate under one roof – to be built on one floor. It follows its first European store in Amsterdam which opened in June and added to its international portfolio in New York and Boston in the US and also two stores in the Channel Island. The retailer also has concessions in John Lewis stores.
It’s looking to open a London restaurant: Hotel Chocolat is on the hunt for a restaurant in London to open a high-end fine dining offer. The company is aiming to gain a Michelin star for the restaurant which will draw from the menu at its hotel on its plantation in St Lucia.
It’s getting creative: The business has hired former Conde Nast and Vogue executive Timbo Rennie as creative director to lead the design of its products and packaging. The retailer’s eye-catching new Christmas range features a ‘Where’s Wally?’-style small image of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on each product and its new range of 13 beauty products hits stores next month designed in cream with a new brand, Cocoa Juvenate. It also creates chocolate cocktails at its St Lucia plantation including chocolate daiquiris and cacao pulp martinis.
You can pick up your chocolate before you fly: Hotel Chocolat opened its first airport store in Luton in May to test its offer in the location. The store, in the air-side part of departures, uses old timber and hand-chalked blackboards unlike many other slick, modern-looking airport stores.