Hotel Chocolat to raise £50m by listing

Angus Thirlwell
Image caption Hotel Chocolat co-founder Angus Thirlwell

Hotel Chocolat plans to raise £50m by listing on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) in London.

The company, which makes and sells chocolate through 84 stores in the UK and abroad, said the funds raised would be used to finance further expansion.

Hotel Chocolat is run by Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris, who founded the business in 1993.

It posted sales of £81.1m for the year to 28 June 2015 with profits of £7.9m before interest, tax and other charges.

Mr Thirlwell said: "We are very excited at the prospect of listing as it is the next logical step in our growth plans."

The company planned to make further investment in chocolate manufacturing in the UK, as well as new stores and its online service.

Hotel Chocolat recorded 5 million transactions in that period with an average transaction value of £15 excluding VAT.

The company also said it planned to buy the Rabot Estate in St Lucia, which partly supplies its cocoa, before listing in the second quarter of the year.

Mr Thirlwell told the BBC last year that its chocolate had a high cocoa content: "It's an emotionally charged food product that people are buying for the taste and the way it makes them feel."

Aim is a sub-index of the London Stock Exchange that was set up in 1995 to help small firms raise funds they needed for expansion.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Asos was an online fashion pioneer

More than 3,600 companies have listed on Aim, with the best-known being Domino's Pizza and Asos.

The online fashion retailer was worth just £14m when it made its debut on 2001 but is now valued at almost £2.6bn.

About 1,100 companies are listed on Aim and some, such as Asos, have decided not to move to the main market because of Aim's lower costs.

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