Hotel Chocolat is on the hunt for a new head of retail following the departure of Darren Williams to upmarket French baker Paul.

Williams has taken up the role of commercial director at Paul UK, which now has more than 30 stores in London.

Hotel Chocolat is in the process of recruiting for a permanent replacement. In the interim, its international director Roger Williams has taken on responsibility for managing the UK store estate.

Roger Williams, a former executive at Monsoon and Body Shop, joined Hotel Chocolat as its first international director at the beginning of last year. The upmarket confectioner already has a small number of stores in continental Europe and the US, but is now planning a more aggressive programme of international store openings.

It is particularly focused on Asia, where its first store is due to open in Hong Kong later this year.

Hotel Chocolat chief executive Angus Thirlwell said appointing Roger Williams as interim head of retail was good preparation ahead of the international push.

“It’s a great way for him to get experience running a Hotel Chocolat retail chain because that’s what he’ll hopefully be doing in the Asian markets,” he said. “We see the potential for quite a few stores.”

During his five years as head of retail, Darren Williams helped Hotel Chocolat grow its store estate from 29 to 77. In his new role at Paul, he will oversee commercial operations and ongoing growth strategy in the UK.