Hotel Chocolat has anticipated that its underlying pre-tax profit for FY21 will be “higher than its previous expectations” amid a period of rising sales for the group.
The revised expectation comes as the retailer’s post-close trading update reported a revenue increase of 21% to £165m for the full-year ended 27 June 2021.
Trading was boosted by a 63% rise in group sales for the 10 weeks from 19 April 2021 to 27 June 2021, compared with the prior year, as well as a 34% rise compared to the same period in 2019.
Having grown its UK customer database by 66% to 3 million in the 18 months since December 2019, digital and subscription sales formed a “substantially larger proportion” of the group’s total revenue and have remained so after full store channel reopening.
Furthermore, UK store performance since the reopening on 12 April 2021 has been “encouraging” for the retailer which said that “strong trading” in smaller cities and market towns has largely “offset” lower footfall in commuter and tourist locations.
The group also remains “well capitalised” with cash on hand and access to a £25m of Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) as well as a revolving credit facility with Lloyds Bank, that expires December 2021.
Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and CEO of Hotel Chocolat, said: “This year we expect more than 50% of our sales to come from digital, partners, and subscription-continuity models, reflecting how Hotel Chocolat is growing and evolving.
“We are proud to be making our chocolate in the UK and will be creating over 250 new roles this year as we grow our team, from designers and data gurus to engineers and apprentices.”
He added: “The whole Hotel Chocolat family is very grateful for the support from our customers, and we are determined to drive forward our ethical programmes in the communities we work within and our cocoa growers as well as our environmental targets and initiatives.”