Sector News

Mars acquires British confectionery brand Hotel Chocolat for £534m

November 19, 2023
Consumer Packaged Goods

Mars has acquired Hotel Chocolat for £534 million, signifying a pivotal development in the premium confectionery sector.

Founded in 1993 by Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris, Hotel Chocolat has emerged as a distinguished brand in the UK, with this acquisition poised to strengthen its global footprint.

Thirlwell and Harris will each receive £144 million from the acquisition, underscoring the robust valuation of Hotel Chocolat and affirming Mars’ commitment to investing in premium brands.

The strategic alignment aims to leverage Mars’ operational expertise to navigate the international expansion challenges that Hotel Chocolat faces, emphasising streamlining manufacturing, distribution and logistical intricacies.

“We know our brand resonates with consumers overseas, but operational supply chain challenges have held us back,” said Thirlwell. “By partnering with Mars, we can grow our international presence much more quickly using their skills, expertise and capabilities.”

Hotel Chocolat’s position in the confectionery market remains untouched post-acquisition. Mars Snacking global president, Andrew Clarke, assured industry stakeholders that there are no plans to alter the iconic recipes that define the Hotel Chocolat brand.

“We’ve got a real track record here of nurturing, protecting and accelerating brands and actually keeping that entrepreneurial nature at what that brand stands for,” he said.

Despite previous setbacks in international ventures, including the closure of US stores and challenges in the Japanese market, Hotel Chocolat remains an appealing prospect. The collaboration with Mars signifies a strategic partnership that addresses the nuanced operational requirements of expanding premium confectionery brands globally.

Thirlwell, continuing as CEO, pledged an 80% reinvestment of his windfall back into the company, emphasising a commitment to sustained growth and innovation.

In a statement, Mars said: “[We] believe that Hotel Chocolat and Mars are culturally aligned, with shared values of quality, sustainability and purpose among their guiding principles. Mars’ stated purpose is “the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today” and it shares the passion and conviction in Hotel Chocolat’s mission, “to make people and nature happy through reinventing chocolate”.”

As the integration progresses, stakeholders in the sector are encouraged to anticipate the positive impacts of this collaboration on the broader landscape of premium confectionery.

In October, Hotel Chocolat launched two new chocolate bars and said that it would donate 100% of the bar sales to support sustainable cacao farming practices.

By Sian Yates


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