Hotel Chocolat

An HC spokeswoman said more than 200 of the £2 Waitrose bars had been swapped for its own £3.95 slabs over the weekend

Hotel Chocolat has said it will extend an offer to swap Waitrose bars for its more expensive slabs until the supermarket’s “copycat” range is withdrawn.

The premium chocolatier offered to swap “part-eaten” Waitrose bars in Hotel Chocolat stores over the weekend but has since told The Grocer the “amnesty” will “probably continue for as long as the bars are in Waitrose”.

An HC spokeswoman said more than 200 of the £2 Waitrose bars had been swapped for its own £3.95 trademark slabs over the weekend.

Hotel Chocolat claims Waitrose’s recently launched range copies the curvy-edged design of its slabs, which is registered with the European Union’s intellectual property office.

The spokeswoman said the company had written to Waitrose for the second time on 18 May, having received no response to a letter sent a week earlier in which Hotel Chocolat founder Angus Thirlwell asked the supermarket to “do the right thing” by withdrawing the range.

“We’re moving as swiftly as possible,” said the spokeswoman. “We want an answer from Waitrose and we want this done and dusted.”

She added: “We’re in talks with them now. The legal guys are talking to them and we have absolutely no intention of backing down, far from it.”

Hotel Chocolat promoted the swap offer on social media with the hashtag #Slabgate, and in an advertisement on its website saying: “Bring your part-eaten copycat bar into any HC store over this weekend and we will swap it for an original version.”

The spokeswoman said the offer had generated a “great response” and was limited to one swap per person.

A Waitrose spokeswoman said: “We are confident that we have not infringed any of Hotel Chocolat’s designs and we refute all of the allegations made by Mr Thirlwell and Hotel Chocolat. However, it is not in our interest to enter into a protracted legal dispute with Hotel Chocolat and so we are corresponding with them directly about these issues.”