Hotel Chocolat intends to float on the London Stock Exchange market for smaller firms, AIM, as it plots more store openings. 

The chocolate producer and retailer said it expects to place proceeds of around £50m from issuing new shares and the sale of existing shares. It expects to float within the next three months.

AIM allows small companies to float shares with a more flexible regulatory system compared with the main market.

Hotel Chocolat co-founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell said: “We are very excited at the prospect of listing as it is the next logical step in our growth plans and will enable us to accelerate the many initiatives that we have in place, in particular additional investment in our British chocolate manufacturing, in new stores and in our digital offering.”

In its last full-year, Hotel Chocolat swung back into the black with pre-tax profits of £3m off a 10% rise in sales to £81m.

The retailer, founded by Thirlwell and Peter Harris in 1993, operates 81 UK shops and three in Copenhagen.