Hotel Chocolat will launch its first store in Japan and take a second crack at the US as the business ramps up its overseas push.
The chocolatier said it would open shops in the two markets this winter, and increase its presence in Scandinavia through a franchise partnership.
The retailer has agreed terms to open a store on New York’s Lexington Avenue this winter, while its maiden Japanese shop will open in Tokyo “in advance of the peak Japanese gift-giving seasons” in February and March.
Hotel Chocolat revealed the next steps in its international expansion drive as it unveiled a 13% jump in pre-tax profit to £12.7m in the year to July 1.
Its bottom line was boosted by an 11% uplift in revenues to £116.3m.
Hotel Chocolat said the opening of 15 new stores in the UK and Ireland during the six-month period contributed 6% of the year-on-year sales growth.
Boss Angus Thirlwell said the results marked “another year of significant progress” for the business.
Thirlwell said: “We are increasingly confident that international expansion presents a growth opportunity, and will be adopting a cautious ‘test, learn, grow’ approach to our new partnership in Scandinavia and our new ventures in the US and Japan, where we intend to open our first stores this winter.”
He said non-executive director Greg Hodder, who has experience of growing men’s formal fashion brand Charles Tyrwhitt in the US, would be “very involved” in Hotel Chocolat’s strategy in America.
Its Japanese joint venture will be led by Chris Horobin, the former boss of QVC Japan.
Hotel Chocolat also revealed that it has appointed former Holland & Barrett and Joules executive Lysa Hardy as its first-ever chief marketing officer to strengthen its senior team.
Thirlwell said trading since the end of the half-year period had been “in line with management expectations” and added: “Despite challenges and uncertainties in the wider economy, the strength of the brand drives great customer loyalty and we are well positioned for the future, with a strong pipeline of opportunities.”