Hotel Chocolat CEO Angus Thirlwell

Hotel Chocolat (HOTC) CEO Angus Thirlwell has pledged not to instigate “kneejerk” price rises to cope with rising input costs after the post-Brexit plunge in the pound.

Speaking to The Grocer after unveiling the chocolatier’s debut annual results as a listed company, Thirlwell admitted the falling pound would create “raw material headwinds”, but he said Hotel Chocolat remained “a million miles away” from passing those increases onto consumers.

“We do hedge ahead against volatility in the price of raw materials, but at some point those hedges are going to unwind,” he admitted.

However, he said Hotel Chocolat was more protected from the plunge in the pound than some other UK suppliers as its manufacturing costs were also sterling denominated.

“As a relatively new manufacturer, we can make improvements in productivity and we can use those efficiencies to largely offset those increases in the price of raw materials,” he explained.

Investment in its manufacturing processes was a focus on its financial year to 26 June 2016, which saw the completion of £8.3m of capex projects to support its growth strategy, including investment in its Huntington factory to grow capacity by over 20%.

Thirlwell said Hotel Chocolat’s £10m, three year investment programme will fund further efforts to grow capacity and fund manufacturing efficiencies as well as support new store openings and the launch of a new web platform in 2017.

During the year top-line growth of 12% was boosted by the opening of seven new stores to take its estate to 83 stores and online growth of 20%-plus.

Its focus on efficiencies, and the closing of three less profitable stores, helped pre-tax profit increase by 91% to £5.6m during the year.