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Case Study: What’s in a Chocolate Empire

Its a brand driven business that has grown to a £60 million turnover business in  20 years.  That may sound like ordinary, but its not. Ask Thorntons , it took them over 60 years to hit comparable figures.

Hotel Chocolat engages in the production and distribution of chocolates for most occasions.  It offers chocolate gifts including dark chocolates, milk chocolates, white chocolates, caramel chocolates, chocolate truffles, fruit chocolates, and nut chocolates. The company sells its products through stores in the United Kingdom, the United States, Bahrain, Dubai, and Kuwait, as well as online. Hotel Chocolat Ltd. was formerly known as ChocExpress Limited and changed its name to Hotel Chocolat Ltd. in May 2003.

A few facts about this company are intriguing and noteworthy:-

1. They have registered several Trade marks in key markets to protect their valuable brand.

2. They have a Chocolate Tasting Club, launched in 1998 that has over 100,000 members which has trialled over 1,500 different recipes. Further, Hotel Chocolat runs a very successful chocolate bond scheme, obtaining loans (typically £2,000 or £4,000 that can be redeemed in full in 3 years) from its customers in exchange for bi-monthly interest payments of chocolate :-).  The money is used to help grow the business (international expansion + expansion of its innovative chocolate lines). So successful has this bond scheme been that it has raised £5m.

3. They own a chocolate plantation, Rabot Estate in St Lucia (West Indies), at 140 accres. This gives them greater control on production cost and quality and establishes vertical integration in their business model. To cement this, they have a manufacturing facility in Huntingdon, they own a call centre and an ecommerce site.

4. They have a mail order catalogue, and their store in Boston, Massachusetts has a “tasting room”.

5. As if this weren’t enough, they also own an award winning hotel in St Lucia, including a Chocolate themed restaurant. (More about the extraordinary experience visitors to the hotel can indulge in here)

6. Although the company’s roots go back over 20 years ago, Hotel Chocolat’s first store opened in Watford only in 2003

7. Add in some humour; the company’s co-founder’s was quoted saying he felt like asking HMRC to take ‘tax payments’ in chocolate when the tax-man claimed the company should pay tax on their innovative ‘chocolate bond’ scheme!



One thought on “Case Study: What’s in a Chocolate Empire

  1. Fascinating stuff. Thank you!

    Posted by Shawna Katie Bohn | July 13, 2012, 2:38 am

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