Sweet fortune for founders of Huntingdon-based luxury chocolate company after successful flotation

Hotel Chocolat: Iconix box.  EMN-141208-115507001
Hotel Chocolat: Iconix box. EMN-141208-115507001
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The founders of an upmarket chocolate company have netted £20 million each after a successful flotation.

Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris created Hotel Chocolat, which has a manufacturing facility in Redwongs Way, Huntingdon, 13 years ago.

Peter Harris, one of the founders of Hotel Chocolat. Picture 798 ENGEMN00120110527120952

Peter Harris, one of the founders of Hotel Chocolat. Picture 798 ENGEMN00120110527120952

Today, the pair share £43 million and keep a 66.6 per cent stake in the company after its listing on the London Stock Exchange’s junior AIM market, which valued it at £167 million.

Its shares are valued at 148pence each.

The company, which enjoys annual revenues of £82 million, raised £55.5 million through the listing with the remaining £12 million of the sum earmarked for expansion.

The firm, which employs about 600 staff, has said it intends to invest in its chocolate factory in Huntingdon. The firm has 81 stores nationally including one in Lion Yard, Cambridge.

Today is a significant moment in the development of Hotel Chocolat.

Angus Thirlwell, founder and chief executive

Mr Thirlwell, who is also chief executive of Hotel Chocolat, said: “Today is a significant moment in the development of Hotel Chocolat and we are delighted to have received such strong demand from investors.

“We have clear plans to invest further in our British chocolate manufacturing operations, in new stores and in our digital offering.

“We welcome our new shareholders and look forward with confidence to the next phase of our growth and development as a listed company.”

Mr Thirlwell and Mr Harris began working together in 1987 when they established a business selling mints direct to corporate customers.

The business expanded and focused on selling chocolates online to consumers under the brand ‘ChocExpress’, with a Chocolate Tasting Club created in 1999.

The Hotel Chocolat brand was created in 2003 and the first Hotel Chocolat store opened in 2004.

Four years later the group established a dedicated UK manufacturing facility at Huntingdon, which allows in-house chocolate design and manufacture.

A spokesman for the firm said: “Directors believe that further capital investment will increase the capacity of the factory and unlock economies of scale.

“In addition, a redesign of parts of the production process will help reduce packaging costs.”