Hotel Chocolat upgrades full-year expectations after sweet, sweet Easter

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Hotel Chocolat Group PLC (LON:HOTC) said trading for the year ending 27 June will be significantly ahead of expectations.


The chocolatier posted a 60% jump in revenue in the eight weeks to 25 April, its second-largest seasonal peak as it includes Mother’s Day and Easter.


READ: Hotel Chocolat says trading matches expectations ahead of stores reopening


Stores were closed for six weeks during the period this year, compared with five weeks in 2020.


Sales were still 19% higher than the same period in 2019, when all stores were trading.


This year’s growth was driven by digital channels, though sales have been “encouraging” since stores reopened in England on 12 April.


The AIM-listed group also committed to repay the GBP3mln received from the UK Government under the furlough scheme.


“In the past year, we have added over 1mln customers to our database, an increase of 47%. Our strong Easter is entirely thanks to them,” said co-founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell.


“It feels great to have our physical locations back open again and we have a strong pipeline of exciting new products to launch over the summer, including our Rabot Estate Coffee brand, Strawberries & Cream iced chocolate drinks for our Velvetiser system, and Neapolitan chocolate macarons for al-fresco dining.”


Analysts at Peel Hunt moved the target price to 450p from 400p as the brand “goes from strength to strength and may be, net, a beneficiary of the crisis”.


“We don’t expect online to be quite as potent into the summer when outdoor activities are permitted and footfall to stores can really rise properly, but there has been a long term rebasing of the mix, we think,” the broker said.


Shares jumped 8.5% to 379.75p on Monday morning.


–Adds analyst comment, shares–

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