Rococo Chocolates

Rococo Chocolates was founded by Chantal Coady in 1983

Luxury chocolatier Rococo Chocolates has been snapped up in a pre-pack rescue deal by a company owned by Gruppo Illy after collapsing for the second time in three years.

Prestat Group, a London-based heritage premium chocolate producer, paid £100k for the business and assets of Rococo Chocolates London Ltd, which included three high-end shops in the capital in Marylebone, Belgravia and Chelsea, as well as the online DTC operation.

Established on the King’s Road in London in 1983 by Chantal Coady, Rococo struggled to cope during the pandemic, despite a significant increase in online sales throughout lockdown, according to administrators.

The repayment requirements associated with a £1m government loan through the coronavirus business interruption programme put further pressure on working capital in 2022.

The business, which itself was created in June 2019 to acquire Rococo Chocolates Ltd out of administration, engaged BTG Advisory – a part of Begbies Traynor Group – in April this year to carry out an accelerated sales process.

The process concluded on 9 June when Begbies was appointed as administrator of Rococo and the business was sold in a pre-pack deal to Prestat for £100k.

Prestat, which holds a Royal Warrant, joined Gruppo Illy in 2019 thanks to an acquisition by fine chocolate maker Domori, which the Italian group also took over in 2006.

Prestat CEO Micaela Illy said the new owner would build on the legacy built by Rococo over the past 40 years.

She added the combination of two British chocolate brands would create “deep synergies” for the group, with the addition of Domori giving it “complete control of the supply chain”.

“The Rococo brand has great momentum and last year achieved record sales of nearly £4m, having grown by more than 30% over the last two years,” Illy said.

“The business’s exciting new product range and its strong team under the leadership of my predecessor Rupert Morley has driven strong growth in both retail and online channels.

“Sadly, the pandemic was not kind to smaller retail brands and the investment market is very volatile at the moment, so we were very fortunate to be able to take advantage of these extraordinary times to acquire the brand and, with it, the opportunity to invest and build on the unique Rococo legacy built over the last 40 years.”

Rococo CEO [Rupert] Morley was the sole director and shareholder of Rococo Chocolates London Ltd following the acquisition out of administration of Rococo Chocolates Ltd in 2019. BDO, the previous administrator, said at the time that Rococo had failed due to “difficult trading conditions” hitting the company’s working capital position.

Morley said: “Rococo Chocolates is an iconic British brand that has delighted generations of chocolate lovers. I was privileged to have the opportunity to build on the legacy of its esteemed founder Chantal Coady and I am delighted to be able to pass it on to Micaela Illy.

“This is an exciting time. The new owners strongly believe in the business and with Micaela’s energy and vision, Rococo will surely go on to achieve even greater things.”