Hotel Chocolat has reported a rise in its Christmas sales driven by new stores and strong-seller Velvetiser hot chocolate.

The confectionery retailer recorded a 15% rise in sales in the 13 weeks to December 30, bolstered by a 5% uplift in sales from new stores.

The retailer opened 15 new stores in the six months to December and now has a 117-strong UK store estate.

The specialist retailer posted a sales uplift across retail, online and wholesale divisions during the Christmas period and said trading since December continues in line with management expectations.

Hotel Chocolat’s festive sales were bolstered by its new product Velvetiser hot chocolate, which outsold its initial forecast three-fold.

The retailer’s loyalty scheme also acquired 400,000 new members during the period, 85% of whom were in-store customers.

Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive, said: “This was another strong Christmas for Hotel Chocolat. Our new store openings contributed 5% of the growth in the period, with the balance coming from existing stores, digital and wholesale channels.

“Our wholesale partnerships were notable successes with strong growth, balancing lower margins with lighter capital investment.

“Initial customer response to our new location in New York and joint venture store in Tokyo has been very encouraging, demonstrating the global appeal of the Hotel Chocolat brand and its ability to travel overseas.”