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Hotel Chocolat Group (HOTC)

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Down 425.00p
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Hotel Chocolat hails solid festive performance

23 Jan 19

LONDON (ShareCast) - (Sharecast News) - Hotel Chocolat hailed a solid performance over the festive period on Wednesday as it benefited from the opening of new stores.
In an update for the 13 weeks to 30 December, the premium chocolatier said total group revenue rose 15% compared to the same period a year ago, with growth across retail, digital and wholesale channels. Hotel said new store openings contributed 5% of the growth.

The company opened 15 new stores during the period and now has 117 stores in its UK domestic market.

It said trading since December remains in line with management's expectations.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Angus Thirlwell said: "Our wholesale partnerships were notable successes with strong growth, balancing lower margins with lighter capital investment.

"The Velvetiser in-home hot chocolate system quickly garnered rave reviews from press and customers and we sold over three times our initial forecast. Our new Chocolat Cream Liqueur, as featured in our documentary film last week, was also a hit. We invested in the growth of our new VIP Me loyalty scheme, acquiring over 400,000 members during the period, of which over 85% were in-store buyers, not previously on our database.

"Initial customer response to our new location in New York and joint venture store in Tokyo has been very encouraging, demonstrating the global appeal of the Hotel Chocolat brand and its ability to travel overseas."

Peel Hunt, which rates the stock at 'buy' with a 300p price target, said the statement confirms a very good Christmas season and while there is no upgrade, this is "more than excusable" with such consumer uncertainty around and the interims only a month away.

"What today showcased was that the Hotel Chocolat brand is growing its sales strongly in a number of ways: in store LFL was positive for the half and especially in the last few weeks of December. Online growth remains strong and the wholesale opportunity is material but won't compromise brand equity.

"The early signs are good from the nascent ventures into Japan and the USA too. This is a high quality company, growing in a controlled fashion, with a very strong brand and high barriers to entry. The multiple isn't lowly but today is another example of why investors will continue to pay up for quality."

At 1045 GMT, the shares were up 4.4% to 281.90p.

Note 1: Prices and trades are provided by Digital Look Corporate Solutions and are delayed by at least 15 minutes.


Market Data

Currency UK Pounds
Price 425.00p
Change Today -5.00p
52 Week High 507.00p
52 Week Low 306.00p
Volume 16,558
Shares Issued 115.63m
Market Cap 491.41m


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  Final Interim
Ex-Div 21-Nov-19 07-Mar-19
Paid 20-Dec-19 17-Apr-19
Amount 1.20p 0.60p