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19 Jan 2021 | 09:40

Online sales offset store closures at Hotel Chocolat

(Sharecast News) - Premium chocolatier Hotel Chocolat reported a jump in revenue on Tuesday as a rise in online sales helped to offset the impact of store closures due to Covid-19 lockdowns. In an update for the 13-week and 26-week periods ended 27 December 2020, the company said total group revenue for the 13-week period was up 19% versus to the prior year. For the 26-week period, revenue rose 11%.

In the UK, online growth more than offset the impact of temporary store closures due to Covid restrictions, it said.

In the US, meanwhile, the brand was able "to adapt rapidly and pivot the multichannel business model", delivering year-on-year growth of 19% for the 13-week period and 8% for the 26-week period.

Hotel Chocolat said that in Japan, where it opened a further 12 outlets during the half year, the joint venture is now operating from 18 locations, with a substantially increased e-commerce database.

Trading since December continues to be in line with management's expectations, it said, despite materially higher investments in the acceleration of its digital and international growth plan, and ongoing pandemic-related costs.

Co-founder and chief executive officer Angus Thirlwell said: "We accelerated several of our digital growth initiatives over the last year and can clearly see the huge potential ahead. Whilst there is still further near-term pandemic-related uncertainty, and ongoing increased costs in reacting to it, I am increasingly confident that in the medium-term we can deliver significant further growth in the UK, USA and Japan."

House broker Liberum said: "H1 group revenue growth of 11% y/y, with an acceleration to 19% in Q2, is another impressive performance. It means, we leave our forecasts unchanged despite the disruptive backdrop.

"Digital has strengthened further, more than offsetting temporary store closures, reflecting the strength of the brand, true operational agility and broadening access by customers which bodes extremely well for the future. The foundations continue to be laid for international expansion, with the group only just at the beginning of tapping into the US and Japan - a combined addressable market size of over £32bn, some 6x that of UK."

Liberum has a 'buy' rating on the shares.
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