Hotel Chocolat expects to hit full-year profit guidance as full-year sales rose despite a decline in revenues during lockdown.
The specialist retailer reported sales up 3% to £136m in the year to June 28 – up 14% in the first half and down by the same amount in the second.
Hotel Chocolat’s key Easter and Mother’s Day selling was during the lockdown but the retailer managed to move a “significant proportion” of those sales online. In the fourth quarter, digital sales rocketed more than 200% year on year.
Of Hotel Chocolat’s 125 UK locations, 119 are open for business again. The retailer said high streets were performing better than city-centre, commuter locations. Total sales from bricks-and-mortar stores are lower year on year but digital growth ”remains very strong”. Group sales since the reporting period end have been in line with management expectations and underlying pre-tax profit should also come in as anticipated.
Hotel Chocolat co-founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell said: “Online, our brand is now set to a significantly faster growth trajectory, delivering gifts, subscriptions and household indulgence. Some of this is attributable to Covid-accelerated change, but new concept launches and digital enhancements have also supported growth.
“We remain positive about the unparalleled leisure experience a physical Hotel Chocolat can deliver within our multichannel direct-to-consumer model. All we need is footfall, and so far we are seeing that return at different rates. Residential areas are stronger, with city centres more subdued without as many commuters and tourists.”