Hotel Chocolat Group Plc (LON:HOTC) said trading has been in line with expectations as multichannel performance of the UK remains “encouraging” and the new markets continue to show “promising” growth.
The chocolatier plans to start reopening UK stores from April 12 in line with government guidelines.
In the half-year to December 27, revenue advanced 11% to GBP101mln with profit before tax up 3% to GBP15mln and net cash at period-end of GBP47mln.
The AIM-listed company paused the dividend after raising equity last year and it’s mulling over a potential reinstatement, although it remains mindful of market uncertainty and need to invest in operational growth.
UK sales grew by 12%, with online growth more than offsetting loss of store sales.
The US saw revenue up 22% in the second quarter but growth was capped by inventory reaching peak levels, while in Japan joint venture’s sales to consumers grew 228%.
“There’s a lot of excitement about the potential for the US (digitally based) and Japan (more a multi-channel story): both could in time be as big as the UK,” analysts at Peel Hunt commented.
“That growth potential may hold back the return of the dividend but it’s a small price to pay for what could be massive growth opportunities.”
Shares rose 3% to 385p on Tuesday morning.