Coronavirus: Luxury chocolate and wine sales surge during lockdown

Yahoo Finance UK
A view of several wine bottles in a restaurant or kitchen pantry. Photo: Getty
A view of several wine bottles in a restaurant or kitchen pantry. Photo: Getty

Sales of luxury chocolate and subscription wine rose during lockdown as Brits turned to comfort buying.

Brands Hotel Chocolat and Naked Wines reported a surge in online sales, with the subscription wine club seeing a 77% rise in the three months to June.

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Meanwhile revenues at Hotel Chocolat spiked 3% in the year to June 28, despite the closure of its high street stores and the temporary shutting of its Cambridgeshire factory for eight weeks.

The boost in revenue  was due to a 200% surge in online sales, including a 47% increase in subscription products.

High demand means the company is now creating 200 jobs in its chocolate-making factory and distribution site.

Sales in Yorkshire have been particularly strong and chief executive Angus Thirwell said the firm was eyeing up Ilkley, Skipton, Whitby and Scarborough for potential new stores.

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Hotel Chocolat has now reopened 119 of its 125 locations, and has no plans to close any stores.

“The acceleration of change in the retail landscape has galvanised us to speed up our plans and investments in the opportunities we were already pursuing.

“Online, our brand is now set to a significantly faster growth trajectory, delivering gifts, subscriptions and household indulgence," Thirwell said.

Meanwhile Naked Wines received such unprecedented during the coronavirus lockdown that is had to temporarily stop taking new orders in May.

In a trading statement the company said: “The board continues to believe that Naked is ideally positioned to be a long-term winner from the inflection in consumer demand for online wine as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Chairman John Walden who led the group through the sale of the Majestic Wine business and rebranded Naked Wines as an online-only retailer, has announced he is stepping down. He will be succeeded by non-executive director Ian Harding.

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