Hotel Chocolat founders share £288m from Mars sale

  • By Dearbail Jordan
  • Enterprise reporter, BBC Information

Picture supply, Getty Photographs

The co-founders of Lodge Chocolat will every get £144m after agreeing to promote the British enterprise to Mars.

The US confectionery big can pay £534m for the agency that Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris arrange in 1993.

Lodge Chocolat mentioned the deal would enable the model to “develop additional and sooner”, together with abroad.

The corporate has had blended success with increasing internationally and final yr needed to shut down its 5 retailers within the US.

“We all know our model resonates with shoppers abroad, however operational provide chain challenges have held us again,” mentioned chief govt Mr Thirlwell.

The corporate is generally primarily based within the UK with round 124 retailers, however has some abroad.

Mr Thirlwell mentioned: “By partnering with Mars, we will develop our worldwide presence rather more rapidly utilizing their abilities, experience and capabilities.”

Mr Thirlwell and Mr Harris every have a 27% stake in Lodge Chocolat. Mr Thirlwell, who will keep on as chief govt, mentioned that he would make investments 80% of the £144m he’ll make again into the corporate.

He added that Mr Harris, who will retire, would additionally make investments a few of his windfall in Lodge Chocolat underneath Mars’ possession however didn’t say how a lot.

Picture supply, Lodge Chocolat

Picture caption,

Angus Thirlwell will keep on as chief govt after Mars buys Lodge Chocolat

Lodge Chocolat began by promoting its upmarket confectionery on-line and opened its first store, in north London, in 2004.

Commenting on whether or not Mars meant to vary Lodge Chocolat’s recipes following the takeover, Andrew Clarke, world president of Mars snacking, mentioned there have been “completely no plans” to do this.

“We have an actual monitor file right here of nurturing, defending and accelerating manufacturers and truly conserving that entrepreneurial nature at what that model stands for,” he mentioned.

There are additionally no plans to begin promoting Mars confectionery in Lodge Chocolat retailers.

‘Behind the scenes’

Lodge Chocolat’s abroad enlargement has been expensive and problematic.

In September final yr, it introduced the closure of its 5 retailers within the US at a value of £3.5m, however it continues to promote on-line, specializing in its Velvetiser scorching chocolate-maker.

Earlier this yr, it introduced a three way partnership in Japan with Tokyo’s Eat Creator Company to arrange 21 Lodge Chocolat retailers after its first deal fell aside.

It beforehand had a partnership with Chris Horobin, the previous boss of QVC Japan, to open shops within the nation. Nevertheless, that deal ended and resulted in Lodge Chocolat writing off practically £22m.

The corporate now holds a 20% stake within the three way partnership with Eat Creator and can obtain royalties from the deal.

Commenting on its previous difficulties with increasing internationally, Mr Thirlwell mentioned: “Constructing a model abroad just isn’t a short-term repair.”

He mentioned there was “enormous attraction” for Lodge Chocolat and its merchandise abroad.

However he went on: “What we discovered harder and what was going to require extra capital and extra work was the operational parts of the enterprise, so that features manufacturing in nation, distribution and the behind-the-scenes aspect that prospects do not actually see.

“This tie-up with Mars is definitely all about fixing that for Lodge Chocolat.”

The corporate additionally owns an property in St Lucia, which has a 140-acre farm that produces natural cacao and is the place the corporate operates the Rabot Lodge.

In its most up-to-date outcomes, Lodge Chocolat disclosed impairment fees on the property due to “continued Covid-19 disruption the place customer numbers to the island haven’t recovered to pre-pandemic ranges”.

The corporate additionally has retailers in Eire and Gibraltar.

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