Blog: Dean BestHotel Chocolat's "chocolate bond"

Dean Best | 24 May 2010

Companies asking shareholders or members for funds for expansion is nothing new - but returns are not often paid in chocolate.

Upmarket UK chocolate chain Hotel Chocolat has set out its stall for expansion at home and abroad - and aims to fuel that expansion through the issue of "chocolate bonds".

Hotel Chocolat is looking to open more stores in the UK and in Europe, expand its manufacturing site in the UK, as well as invest in its plantation in St Lucia.

The company is aiming to raise GBP5m (US$7.2m) to fund its plans and, in what it claims is a UK first, has launched a "chocolate bond" available to its "chocolate tasting club" members.

Those members can invest GBP2,000 or GBP4,000 with a gross annual return of 6.72% or 7.29%. The difference is in the return, which will be paid in chocolate.

"We have ambitious plans for the future and, when it came to considering the funding of these plans, we decided to think somewhat differently," says Angus Thirlwell, co-founder and CEO of the Hotel Chocolat family of companies.

"Rather than borrow in the traditional way and pay interest to a big bank, we would much prefer to provide a return to our customers – in chocolate – through a chocolate bond."

Hotel Chocolat surveyed its members before launching the bond and insists it is "delighted" at the "positive reaction" it has received.

With interest rates so low, the move could prove a sweet return for Hotel Chocolat's members - although it may be an issue for their waistlines.


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