Hotel Chocolat has raised £3.7m via its first Chocolate Bond offer, just shy of the £5m it originally targeted.

The Chocolate Bond was available to its Chocolate Tasting Club members and the return is paid in chocolate. Members, who number about 100,000, 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 is paid in monthly Tasting Club boxes of chocolate.

The funds will be used to expand the chocolate factory in Cambridgeshire, expand its portfolio of shops, set up an eco factory at its cocoa plantation in the Rabot Estate in St Lucia, and expand overseas.

Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and chief executive of the Hotel Chocolat family of companies, said:  “We are thrilled with the phenomenal response from the Chocolate Tasting Club members to this innovative form of fund raising.  The remarkable support we have received is a testament to the strength of the relationships we have been fortunate to enjoy with our customers since the establishment of The Chocolate Tasting Club 12 years ago.

“The idea for this Chocolate Bond was prompted by our customers asking how they could get more involved with the company.  We found a way of inviting them to invest in our development plans in exchange for a return paid in chocolate.  And we have been bowled over by their response.  We are now in a strong position to grow the business further using funds provided directly from our customers.”

After three years the chocolate bonds can be redeemed in full.  The first return to bondholders will be delivered in the form of a Chocolate Tasting Box during August.