Hive Bidco, Inc., a subsidiary of Mars, Inc., has agreed to acquire Hotel Chocolat Group PLC, a premium chocolate company in the United Kingdom with international expansion goals.
Mars may support Hotel Chocolat’s next growth phase through its international footprint, global supply chain and commercial relationships, according to Mars, which has operated in the United Kingdom since 1932.
The cash offer of £534 million ($663 million), or £3.75 ($4.65) per share, represented a premium of 170% to Hotel Chocolat’s share price of £1.39 on the London Stock Exchange at the close of business on Nov. 15, the day before the transaction was announced. The share price on Nov. 16 soared 160% to £3.64. Eligible Hotel Chocolat shareholders may elect to receive one unlisted share of Class B stock of Bidco for each Hotel Chocolat share.
“Hotel Chocolat is a differentiated and much-loved brand, with an impressive product offering and a deep commitment to its values of originality, authenticity and ethical trading,” said Andrew Clarke, global president of Mars Snacking. “The Mars and Hotel Chocolat businesses are highly complementary, and during the course of our discussions with Hotel Chocolat’s leadership it has also become clear that there is a very strong cultural fit, with purpose at the heart of both organizations and a shared passion for quality and sustainability.”
Hotel Chocolat has grown internationally through its US digital subsidiary business, a cocoa tourism subsidiary business in St. Lucia and a minority shareholding in a Japanese brand license partnership.
“Hotel Chocolat’s brand destiny is to become a leading premium chocolate brand in major markets through reinventing chocolate for people and nature,” said Angus Thirlwell, chief executive officer of Hotel Chocolat. “In Mars we have found a true meeting of minds — in strong cultural values, bold strategy and true long-termism.”
Mr. Thirlwell and Peter Harris opened the first Hotel Chocolat shop in London in 2004. The company now has 126 stores as well as cafes, restaurants, outlets and factory stores. Over 40 stores are in Japan, and a hotel is located on the company’s cacao farm in St. Lucia.A majority of the chocolate products are made at a facility in Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom. Hotel Chocolat has a mantra: more cocoa, less sugar. The house-grade milk chocolates are 40% and 50% cocoa, and the white chocolate is 36% cocoa. Supermilk Pure milk chocolate has no added sugar. Velvtiser is a brand of barista-grade drinking chocolate that contains grated chocolate and either dairy milk or plant-based milk alternatives. Hotel Chocolat in 2021 opened its own coffee line, Rabot Estate, and introduced a coffee machine, The Podster.