Hotel Chocolat wants to raise £5m of development funds through the launch of a ‘chocolate bond’ which will reward members with chocolates.

The Chocolate Tasting Club, part of the Hotel Chocolat family of companies, will make the bonds available to its Chocolate Tasting Club members, which currently numbers around 100,000.

Members can invest £2,000 for a gross annual return of 6.72% or £4,000 for a gross annual return of 7.29%. The return will be paid in monthly Tasting Club boxes. After three years, the bonds can be redeemed in full.

The group will use the funds to expand the chocolate factory in Cambridgeshire, creating up to 250 new jobs. It also wants to expand the portfolio of Hotel Chocolat shops, creating up to 150 new jobs.

It will also invest in its eco chocolate factory at its cocoa plantation in the Rabot Estate in St Lucia, and expand further overseas.

Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive of the Hotel Chocolat family of companies, said: “We have ambitious plans for the future and, when it came to considering the funding of these plans, we decided to think somewhat differently.  Rather than borrow in the traditional way and pay interest to a big bank, we would much prefer to provide a return to our customers – in chocolate – through a Chocolate Bond.

“Our activities span growing cocoa in St Lucia and manufacturing high quality chocolates in the UK, but there are some tremendous opportunities to grow the Hotel Chocolat family of companies further both at home and abroad.  We’ve been delighted with the positive reaction we have received so far from our members for this unusual approach to development fundraising.”