Hotel Chocolat is launching a new subscription service as part of a drive to give customers access to its products “wherever they are”.

The chocolatier already runs its well-established Tasting Club subscription model, which delivers large boxes of assorted chocolates to consumers’ homes on a monthly basis.

But co-founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell told Retail Week the business is investing heavily in revamping its subscriptions proposition.

Speaking after Hotel Chocolat posted a 100% spike in pre-tax profit to £11.2m in the year to July 2, Thirlwell said the retailer and brand will launch its new ‘M-Box’ subscription offer in early 2018 following a successful pilot.

Thirlwell explained this would represent a “complementary offer” to its Tasting Club.

He said: “We know that consumers are living an ever-more mobile life and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to have Hotel Chocolat around them wherever they are.

“This new proposition is a smaller box for £5 weekly, and the chocolates are sealed in a little pouch, which means that you can slip them into your gym bag, tuck them down the side of your briefcase, take them walking with you – all the things we know people want to do is now enabled with this M-Box.

“Consumers are living an ever-more mobile life and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to have Hotel Chocolat around them wherever they are”

Angus Thirlwell, Hotel Chocolat

“It came through our tests very well, so that will be another strand to our broader, more powerful subscription proposition.”

It comes as a number of retailers seek to remove the ‘friction’ from shopping by creating subscription-like models for consumers.

Birchbox has built its business on the subscription model since being founded in 2010, sending shoppers a handful of make-up samples or other beauty products on a monthly basis.

Amazon has created Dash buttons, which allow users to re-order household essentials such as coffee, dishwasher tablets, cleaning products and pet food simply by pressing a button.

And Sainsbury’s Argos boss John Rogers told Retail Week earlier this month that a subscription model to allow automatic re-ordering of products such as washing powder represented a “medium to longer-term opportunity” for the business.

Asian expansion

Hotel Chocolat is also investing in store expansion both in the UK and overseas, where it recently launched two franchise-operated stores in Hong Kong.

Thirlwell is targeting further stores in the country as a platform to drive further Asian expansion.

When asked about the size of the opportunity in Hong Kong, Thirlwell said: “I don’t want to put a number on it, but we wouldn’t be embarking on it if it wasn’t an interesting market in its own right.

“When you look at the number of stores that competitors have got – Godiva have got nearly 30 stores there – we know that we can make a very strong business in Hong Kong.

“That’s interesting, but [the stores] would also have this great attribute of being a showcase in the region and a real learning curve to understand what Asian consumers more broadly are looking for from us and springboard from that into adjacent economies at the right time.”