Hotel Chocolat is going all in on its new out-of-town format, with plans to open a further five new stores in retail parks before Christmas. 

Hotel Chocolat

Hotel Chocolat plans to open five new out-of-town stores by Christmas

The retailer identified out-of-town locations as an opportunity to grow footfall and store sales back in January. 

Hotel Chocolat’s co-founder and development director Peter Harris says the retailer is aiming to open a further five across the UK before Christmas 2023. 

“The whole concept is between 2,500 sq ft and 4,000 sq ft and will have a Velvetiser Cafe as well as a chocolate shop. It will have very clear presentation and layout, giving a clear indication of what the Hotel Chocolat brand stands for,” he said. 

“We’ve already got two retail park stores that we’ve had for the last four or five years and they’ve been really successful.

“The beauty of the out-of-town stores is that they’ve got good accessibility and parking. For customers who want to shop there, they know they can park and it’s easy to get to.”

Harris also said Hotel Chocolat will use its VIP.Me subscription service to push marketing around the new store openings, to drive footfall and sales. 

“Using the fan club, we’re able to communicate with [our members] about where we’re opening new stores and when. When we opened the Northampton retail park store, we had a queue of about 100 people waiting to get in. People love visiting these out-of-town locations.” 

The focus on out-of-town retail parks is part of the brand’s wider ambitions, set out by chief executive Angus Thirlwell at the start of the year, to open 50 new stores over the next three years. 

“We think that physical stores, particularly over the next three years, are extremely attractive for us in the UK. So we’re anticipating opening around 50 more stores, up and down the country, in the next three to maybe five years,” said Thirlwell.