Trafford Centre, Manchester, London, ENGLAND – September 2023: Hotel Chocolat External Store Sign (Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)
Peter Dazeley | Getty Images News | Getty Images
LONDON — U.S. food giant Mars said Thursday that it will buy British chocolatier Hotel Chocolat for £534 million ($662 million), as the brand seeks to boost its international presence.
Hotel Chocolat, which was established 30 years ago to bring ethical, affordable luxury chocolate to the high street, said that the deal would allow the brand to expand “further and faster.”
“We know our brand resonates with consumers overseas, but operational supply chain challenges have held us back. By partnering with Mars, we can grow our international presence much more quickly,” joint founder and chief executive, Angus Thirlwell, said in a statement.
The announcement sent shares of London Stock Exchange-listed Hotel Chocolat soaring more than 160% in early deals to 366.50 pence by 9:30 a.m. local time Thursday.
Mars’ multimillion-pound bid represents a purchase price of 375 pence per share.
Hotel Chocolat is primarily U.K.-based, with 124 shops domestically and several others overseas.
Its international expansion has come up against headwinds. In September 2022, it ceased direct-to-consumer website sales in the U.S., months after closing its high street stores in the country. Thirlwell said that “operational supply chain challenges” had so far stymied the brand’s growth.
The chocolatier also owns an estate in Saint Lucia, which is home to a 140 acre organic cocoa farm and its luxury, eco-resort, Rabot Hotel.
“We are confident that Mars will be an excellent long-term home for Hotel Chocolat, providing a like-minded, entrepreneurial and purpose-led environment in which to maximize the potential of the Hotel Chocolat brand which is already so beloved by consumers,” Andrew Clarke, global president of Mars Snacking, said in a statement.
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