Mars Inc. will purchase Hotel Chocolat for $662 million, according to news reports, with the expectation of giving the UK specialty chocolate company more opportunity for international growth.
According to Reuters, Hotel Chocolat CEO Angus Thirlwell and co-founder Peter Harris have said the offer will be accepted. The company, which was founded in 1993, has more than 130 stores, and Thirlwell told Reuters he had taken the company as far as he could as a small, independent company — but he planned to continue to lead the company under Mars ownership for the next five years.
Hotel Chocolat experienced a rough financial year in its more recent fiscal, with a 10% decline in revenue and a reported loss of $7.7 million. The company has worked to expand internationally and had some small successes, but Thirlwell expects the brand will need manufacturing and infrastructure in Japan and the U.S. to continue to drive that growth. This seems more likely under Mars’ umbrella, the company believes.
It was expected the 3,000 Hotel Chocolat employees would be retained.
The deal was expected to close by the end of January.