Hotel Chocolat has reported an increase in interim earnings after delivering a strong Christmas.

The specialist retailer achieved sales growth across all channels – retail, digital and wholesale – and said trading since the period end is in line with expectations.

Hotel Chocolat reported profit before tax up 7% to £13.8m in the period to December 30. Sales advanced 13% to £80.7m.

The retailer said it had opened 14 new stores in the UK and Ireland, which contributed 4% to group sales growth, and that its new VIP Me loyalty card has attracted 500,000 active customers.

The openings of its first branches in New York and Tokyo have been “encouraging”.

Hotel Chocolat chief executive and co-founder Angus Thirlwell said: “This has been another period of progress for Hotel Chocolat with strong growth in sales, profits and cash generation.

“The critical Christmas period was again successful, supported by the launch of our new and innovative Velvetiser Hot Chocolate maker and by a deepening relationship with our customers via the new VIP Me scheme. Both developments will also support our plans for the key spring seasons of Mother’s Day and Easter.

“Growth in the UK continued to deliver improvements in profitability which have enabled us to invest in the launch of two new start-ups in New York and Tokyo, both of which are showing encouraging early signs, in terms of customer response and the initial store sales performance.

“Recent trading, including the Valentine’s period, is in line with the board’s expectations and we continue to make good progress against our key strategic objectives of opening more stores, improving our digital capability and increasing our production capacity whilst testing and learning in two large new territories.”