Hotel Chocolat boss Angus Thirlwell says the retailer has been inundated with “credible approaches” from potential international partners since floating, as it mulls overseas expansion.
The chocolatier, which already operates three stores in Danish capital Copenhagen, is currently running the rule over moves into other markets across the globe.
And Thirlwell said interest from prospective joint venture partners, franchisees and wholesale businesses had peaked over the past six months.
As previously revealed by Retail Week, the business is already working with Channel Islands-based franchise partner Sandpiper, which opened Hotel Chocolat’s first store in Gibraltar earlier this year, and similar deals could soon be in the pipeline.
Speaking after unveiling a 181% surge in full-year pre-tax profits to £8.2m– the retailer’s first preliminary results statement as a listed company – Thirlwell said: “We have noticed an uptick in the number of credible approaches that we are receiving from international companies who want to partner with us in some way to bring Hotel Chocolat to their culture and their territory.
“That could be as a consequence of floating, it could be as a consequence of being higher profile in London after opening on Regent Street, it could be because the pound is lower – who knows.
“But we have definitely noticed it and that’s welcome.”
Thirlwell said Hotel Chocolat’s non-executive chairman and former Lush boss Andrew Gerrie, who spent 20 years at the helm of the cosmetics and skincare business, would play a vital role in deciding which overseas opportunities the business will explore.
“The important thing is we keep our formation, keep our discipline and work our way towards those opportunities”
Angus Thirlwell, Hotel Chocolat
During Gerrie’s time in charge between 1994 and 2014, Lush grew to over 900 stores across 49 countries and had seven manufacturing facilities across the world.
Thirlwell believes Hotel Chocolat can harness that experience to help it make the right decisions as it weighs up opportunities in various markets.
“Now that we have got Andrew Gerrie on board, we are better placed than ever to work our way through all those enquiries and try to figure out which ones are worth investing time in getting to know and evaluating and researching, or those which we should pass on,” Thirlwell said.
“The important thing is we keep our formation, keep our discipline and work our way towards those opportunities.
“But we’ve got loads of headroom left in the UK and as long as we keep delivering, we will keep everyone, our customers and shareholders, happy.”
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