Upmarket chocolatier Hotel Chocolat has said it is planning to float on London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM).
The company announced on Wednesday (9 March) it hopes to raise £50m (€64.8m, $71.1m) with its initial public offering (IPO) on London's smaller index. The move could value Hotel Chocolat at £150m.
The chain's chief executive Angus Thirlwell, who founded Hotel Chocolat in 1993 with Peter Harris, said the floatation would accelerate the plans the bosses have for the company, including the launch of a new website. Harris and Thirlwell opened the first shop in 2004 and Hotel Chocolat now has 84 shops and cafés opened across the UK.
"Hotel Chocolat is built on our core values of authenticity, originality and ethical trading," Thirlwell said. "We are very excited at the prospect of listing as it is the next logical step in our growth plans and will enable us to accelerate the many initiatives that we have in place, in particular additional investment in our British chocolate manufacturing, in new stores and in our digital offering."
In the year to 28 June 2015, Hotel Chocolat boosted its revenue across stores by 10.2% to £81.1m, generating £3m in profit. As the company plans its floatation, it has appointed broker Liberium Capital as adviser in relation to the IPO.
The AIM is the junior stock exchange for smaller companies looking to boost their value. Ecommerce success story ASOS and specialist retailer Majestic Wine are among the companies listed on the alternative index.