UK’s Hotel Chocolat to Open 50 New Stores

UK’s Hotel Chocolat to Open 50 New Stores

Hotel Chocolat said focusing on “quality over quantity” paid off during the holiday shopping season.

The British omnichannel retailer of luxury chocolates and gifts said in a trading update that its comparable store sales in the United Kingdom rose 10% during the nine weeks ending Dec. 25.

It also reported that it had its strongest-ever sell-through of full-price seasonal products and ended the period with 80% less residual inventory than it had the previous year.

“When times are tough, shoppers prioritize quality products that are really worth it,” Hotel Chocolat Co-founder and CEO Angus Thirlwell said in the update.

The company also said in the update that it has increased its plans to add stores in the U.K.

The Financial Times reported Friday (Jan. 20) that Hotel Chocolat will add 50 new stores over the next three to five years to its existing 125 locations in the country. It is also considering returning to the United States after having left last year due to heavy losses in the country, according to the report.

“We expect the trend of customers reverting to stores to shop to continue in the second half, which is advantageous to the brand because our stores are well invested to deliver an uplifting experience for customers,” Hotel Chocolat said in the update.

Hotel Chocolat’s expansion plans come at a time when other British retailers are being hard hit by property taxes, online competition and the continuing effects of the pandemic.

The Centre for Retail Research reported Jan. 2 that 17,145 retail stores closed in the U.K. in 2022 — more than in any of the previous four years.

Luxury retailers and brands have proven to be more resilient than most, with the earnings reported by the likes of LVMH, Hermes and Kering showing that the world’s wealthy still have an appetite for luxury as well as the means to pay for it.

“For the moment, we don’t see any sign of slowdown in any of our markets,” Hermes Executive Vice President of Finance Eric du Halgouet said in October.

Similarly, Nordstrom CEO Erik Nordstrom said Friday that the retailer saw greater resilience among higher-income shoppers than consumers at large during the recent holiday shopping season.

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