HOTEL Chocolat has been sold to Celebrations and M&Ms owner in a huge £534million deal.
Confectionery giant Mars is buying Hotel Chocolat in a bid to help grow the luxury brand internationally.
Mars is planning to expand the posh chocolatier in the UK and overseas.
Hotel Chocolat said it has reached an agreement with Mars Incorporated, which also owns the Celebrations, Dove, M&Ms and Snickers food brands.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.
Mars, which employs around 10,000 people in the UK, said Hotel Chocolat’s "luxury gifting and immersive brand experiences" will boost its own presence in those areas.
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Andrew Clarke, global president of Mars Snacking, said: "The Mars and Hotel Chocolat businesses are highly complementary, and during the course of our discussions with Hotel Chocolat’s leadership it has also become clear that there is a very strong cultural fit – with purpose at the heart of both organisations, and a shared passion for quality and sustainability."
Hotel Chocolat, which has been running for nearly 20 years, said that while its brand resonates with consumers overseas, supply chain challenges “have held us back” on expanding internationally.
The luxury chain's co-founder and chief executive, Angus Thirlwell said: "We know our brand resonates with consumers overseas, but operational supply chain challenges have held us back.
"By partnering with Mars, we can grow our international presence much more quickly using their skills, expertise and capabilities.”
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The chocolate shop currently has a total of 131 stores across the UK, according to its website.
It also has sites in Gibraltar, Ireland and St Lucia.
All shops are continuing to operate as usual and will remain open.
The chain has been operating at a loss after major restructuring efforts last year which helped to bring down costs.
In September 2022, it announced the closure of five shops in the US, but it still operates online, selling popular items like its Velvetiser hot chocolate maker.
Back in January, it announced a new venture in Japan with Tokyo's Eat Creator to set up 21 Hotel Chocolat shops following the collapse of its initial deal.
The group’s share price has suffered, trading almost a quarter lower for the past six months after two profit warnings earlier this year.
However, last month it said sales grew by more than a 10th in the three months to October and stores opened this year have been performing better than expected.
The chocolatier is known for its upmarket treats, advent calendars and gifts.
One of its most sought-after items is its Velvetiser gadget which melts real chocolate into warm milk to create a hot chocolate.
The Hotel Chocolat Velvetiser can be pretty expensive though.
It's currently on the website for £99.95.
This has led to B&M shoppers rushing to buy a dupe that's £75 cheaper.
The Heat and Eat chocolate drink maker costs £25 and gives "silky smooth hot chocolate every time".
Elsewhere, the ScS chain has been sold to a new owner in a deal worth £100million.
The company, which has more than 100 stores across the UK, is being taken over by Italian furniture retailer Poltronesofa.
Plus, high-street street fashion chain FatFace, which has 180 stores across the UK, has been sold to Next.
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It was acquired by Next for the value of £115.2million.
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