Hotel Chocolat is a British chocolatier and is the only company in the UK to grow cocoa on their own plantation.
Hotel Chocolat’s owners also boast a number of other businesses within their portfolio including a beauty brand and a boutique food and drink chain in London. But the business wasn’t always this big.
The business was originally started in 1988 by Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris. The founders, who still operate the business today, began by designing and selling mints together but a few years later they started to trade in the industry they were really passionate about – the chocolate business.
During their first few years of business Thirlwell and Harris named their chocolate company Choc Express. The brand started out as a catalogue business but the ultimate goal for the business owners was to market their exclusive luxury chocolates to consumers all over the UK. They ran a catalogue and online chocolate business for a while and eventually the Choc Express business was rebranded as Hotel Chocolat in 2003 and since then the company has gone from strength to strength.
Flash forward ten years and the company has grown quite considerably from its original days. Profits have been increasing every year, there are over 60 Hotel Chocolat stores in the UK, two stores in America, two stores in Europe and there are over 800 staff working for the company. The company also has various concessions within John Lewis stores and an online business.
Innovation has always been at the forefront of the company’s strategy and their stores are very different from traditional chocolate and sweet shops. Most Hotel Chocolat stores are packed with luxury chocolate items and gifts and some have cellars where customers can visit and watch chocolate and hot drinks being made. Hotel Chocolat are also the only British chocolate company to grow their own cocoa. After being sent a book by a customer about the cocoa growing business a few years after they launched Hotel Chocolat, the founders wanted to explore their options and so set out on their travels to discover plantations. When they came across the The Rabot Estate in St Lucia they knew it was the right one for them and so bought it in 2006. Now the company uses the estate to grow their own cocoa – setting them apart from their competitors.
The brand has also embarked on a few different ventures including a beauty range, Coco Juvenate, which opened in 2012. Roast and Conch in London is also owned by the pair and is a boutiwue shop that specialises in small batch making and cocoa drinks.
What once was a catalogue based business is now a world-wide brand that is esteimated to make annual sales in excess of £70 million. There is clearly money to be made in chocolate – if you are interested in this industry or want to find wholesale suppliers specialising in confectionery take a look at our
wholesale confectionery suppliers.