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Saturday 22 September 2018

Hotel Chocolat reveals Halloween sales set to surge 40% as UK appetite grows

Revenues from Halloween sales are expected to rival those seen during Valentines Day.

By Kalyeena Makortoff, Press Association City Reporter

Hotel Chocolat is set to cash in on the rising popularity of Halloween, with more Britons splashing out on the event than ever.

The chocolate firm’s co-founder and chief executive Angus Thirlwell told the Press Association that the firm is expecting a 40% surge around the end-of-October celebrations, increasing growth for Halloween revenue from around 30% in previous years.

“It’s changed hugely. When we first started investigating Halloween around 10 years ago, we just dipped our toe in the water and it was a much smaller event,” Mr Thirlwell said.

At the time, he said the focus was previously on low quality chocolate for children without a real role for premium brands.

But Hotel Chocolat has since made “a big commitment” to build it up as a household event, with the company finding that – at least anecdotally – Halloween parties are helping to drive “very good sales”.

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The UK chocolate brand earlier this year revealed a 12% jump in revenues to £104.2 million for the 52 weeks to June 25, on a constant currency basis.

It was also able to report a doubling of pre-tax profits from £5.6 million to £11.2 million for the last financial year.

Mr Thirlwell said Halloween is now “one of our fastest growing seasons when we compare it to the other 10 events that we celebrate throughout the year,” adding that it has started to rival revenues from the likes of Valentine’s Day.

“The thing with Valentine’s Day, it comes out of nowhere and it happens in two days, whereas with Halloween you have a stronger build up to it and more people in the household are participating in it, so that’s really why I think it’s grown to be quite a significant event for us.”

Even compared to more traditional autumn celebrations in Britain, Halloween continues to win out.

Britons are expected to spend nearly double on Halloween this year versus the amount shelled out for Guy Fawkes festivities, totalling around £926 million versus £481 million respectively, according to research released by American Express.

On average, Britons are expected to spend around £62.22 –  with the top three costs being around £19 on hosting get-togethers, £18 on attending a party and £12 on children’s costumes.

Those figures come despite a slowdown in consumer spending across the UK in the face of rising inflation which has surged to 3% on the back of the Brexit-hit pound.

Inflation has hit a number of UK businesses, which are now looking to source more products from Britain in order to help offset the higher cost of imports.

Mr Thirlwell said Hotel Chocolat was constantly exploring homegrown product, despite being “quite well insulated from currency-induced inflation” on raw material prices.

“Because we’re a British manufacturer we add value to the raw materials in Cambridgeshire where we make all our chocolates, so there’s a natural balance there, where we’re adding most of the value there in local UK pounds.

“Nevertheless, there are certain things that you can’t grow in the UK with the current climate, including cocoa, hazelnuts, almonds, things that we use a lot of.

“What we have been doing is looking at more UK-based ingredients, for example whiskey from Scotland which is very popular.”

However, he said there may even be opportunities to revive Hotel Chocolat’s experiment with the use of alternatives like UK-grown cobnuts.

“We were slightly ahead of the curve when we started using them five years ago… but I think it’s one of those things we need to persevere with,” he said.

Press Association

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