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Gloucestershire Business News

Online sales not so sweet for chocolatier

Hotel Chocolat saw a surge in online sales before Easter, but it wasn't enough to offset the impact of store closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

The chocolate retailer, which has stores in Cheltenham and Gloucester Quays, said it was encouraged by the resilience of its business model during lockdown and was continuing to explore ways to grow online sales, as reported by Retail Gazette.

Hotel Chocolat closed all of its stores and cafes from 22nd March, when the government brought in the closure of non-essential shops.

It streamlined its product range for online sales, to allow staff to work safely in its distribution centre, meaning it is handling around half of the workload it had before the virus. This meant that demand outstripped the number of orders it could safely accept over Easter.

In common with many retailers, Hotel Chocolat is now making plans to reopen stores when the time is right - with the necessary adjustments to make shopping safe and enjoyable.

But closing for the lockdown has had a negative impact on sales, meaning the firm has needed to take action to manage costs and cashflow. It has secured a new £35 million loan with Lloyds Bank to strengthen its finances, following an injection of £22 million from an equity fundraiser in March, to fund capital investment and provide financial headroom.

Hotel Chocolat is now putting plans in place to be able to move the majority of demand online, should the need arise again in future.

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