Hotel Chocolat sells boxed chocolates, luxury gifts and giant chocolate slabs
Food & Drink, Retail
The Hotel Chocolat franchise began during the 1990s with online and subscription-based sales: it opened its first physical store in 2004 in North London and has since developed its network of shops, cafes and restaurants to over 100 outlets in the UK alone with more opening throughout the world.
Those behind the enterprise have sought to democratise chocolate retailing and open luxury to a mass customer base, which is why they have avoided an elite approach.
Chocolate is seen as one of those few luxuries that can truly be accessible to everybody.
The Hotel Chocolat franchise can be found in a range of locations from train stations to smaller stores or regional flagship stores. Store expansion is informed by careful
research into the buying patterns of their loyal customer base and the stores vary in size from 100 sq ft to 5,000 sq ft. Many of the larger stores have cafes built in and there are plans to add many more.
The cafes provide customers with more reasons to visit and improve the overall customer experience. Hotel Chocolat sales opportunities are diverse: it is even possible to purchase the so-called “Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser” (used in its cafes) to make the perfect hot chocolate at home. Its seasonal products include the “Hotel Chocolat Easter Egg” and the “Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar.”
The Hotel Chocolat franchise has a distinctive brand and its very name evokes a sense of escape through chocolate indulgence: the use of the word ‘Hotel’ is often associated with the exotic among customers and is an effective example of the company’s novel marketing.
Similarly, the Hotel Chocolat franchise creates a unique brand experience through customer empowerment. This means that the customers have the opportunity to choose from a wide price range from £1 for a modest sweet treat to £10,000 for a luxury stay at Hotel Chocolat’s Saint Lucia cocoa estate. This shows that the company does achieve a very wide client base and appeal. By trading through their own stores and website, the company has an in-depth knowledge of its customers and their product and service requirements
Franchisees enjoy being part of a larger operation where online sales are at the core of the business and more than 50 per cent of its web traffic comes from mobile. Hotel Chocolat has used data in its bid to win a bigger subscription market through the creation of its Chocolate Tasting Club in 1998. The aim is for the franchise to encourage loyalty making it more than just a gifting brand.
Hotel Chocolat differs from the competition in three main ways. First, it prides itself on originality often adopting new concepts and technologies. Competitors tend to divide chocolate into bite-sized pieces while Hotel Chocolat has created its original giant chocolate slabs and also developed that into a smaller Rare & Vintage line. Hotel Chocolat does not simply copy European styles of chocolate – instead, it has created a distinctively British product, characterised by what it calls a “disciplined range
architecture,” which means that only the very best products see the light of day.
Second, the company is authentic in that it actually grows its own cocoa, which makes it stand out in the industry. By combining cocoa growing with the production and sale of luxury chocolate, Hotel Chocolat has uniquely integrated each part of the process, also making it unique in the UK market. The people behind the business have an in-depth knowledge of the chocolate production process and the refinement of flavour to craft the very finest chocolates.
Finally, Hotel Chocolat takers an ethical approach in a competitive environment. For instance, the Engaged Ethics Cocoa Programme (HCCAPEE) has helped to generate many jobs.
The prices of the chocolate it produces are between 30-40 per cent more than global cocoa market levels. Local farmers get paid quickly for selling their cocoa and they have a fair, secure income.
Hotel Chocolat is looking for individuals who have an excellent understanding of property and business law in their given local area. Given the scale of the operation, potential franchisees must already have a proven track record of success in physical retail, cafes or digital.
Experience of cooperation with leading international brands is favoured. The interested parties will need to have access to substantial capital to ensure that they can deliver on the company’s demanding business model. Finally, a commitment to an ethical business culture will be essential for all candidates.
The price of a Hotel Chocolat franchise very much depends on the nature and size of the franchise operation. Interested parties should contact the company for more details.
The business now has over 100 outlets throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland and is expanding every year. From Hotel Chocolat Inverness to Hotel Chocolat Brighton, the stores are now well established in all the major cities and high streets up and down the country.
Hotel Chocolat will expect its franchisees to have the necessary capital, but, given the scale and profitability of the business, it is likely that finances can be obtained from the high street banks among other sources of capital.
No, but candidates will have some accountancy knowledge from past retail experience that will be of value, alongside professional support.
Yes, before you sign the contract you can freely change your mind. Hotel Chocolat is looking for high-level, committed partners and it should become quickly evident if both sides feel that it is right to proceed with the deal.
New franchise owners will receive a comprehensive training program from Hotel Chocolat, dealing with all the key elements of the business. The company will ensure that new franchisees are supported from the period before you open your store and after it is operating to ensure that you are successful. You will also receive administrative and marketing support to help you build your new business into a highly profitable enterprise.
The Hotel Chocolat franchise has a track record of continuous growth and is often seen as one of those rare recession-proof businesses. The confectionery sector will see annual growth of three per cent until 2021 and chocolate will be the largest and fastest-growing sector, which is always especially popular in the UK. You can expect to start making good profits very soon after you are up and running.
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