Huntingdon employer Hotel Chocolat to be bought for £534 million by Mars

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Sale expected to pave the way for new growth

​Huntingdon-based Hotel Chocolat is to be bought by the US confectionery giant Mars in a £534 million deal.

​Hotel Chocolat, which employs about 300 people at its state-of-the-art manufacturing centre at Hadley Park and operates a store in the Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough, says the deal will allow the business to fulfil its potential to grow.

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Mars has offered to pay 375p per share for the Huntingdon employer, representing a 169.8 per cent premium on its closing price on November 15.

US giant Mars has offered £534 million to by Huntingdon employer Hotel ChocolatUS giant Mars has offered £534 million to by Huntingdon employer Hotel Chocolat
US giant Mars has offered £534 million to by Huntingdon employer Hotel Chocolat

The offer is subject to a shareholders’ vote to be held within the next 28 days

It has been reported the acquisition will mean a personal cash windfall of £144 million each for chief executive Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris who jointly created the business in 1993.

The deal comes after a disappointing time for Hotel Chocolat which made a £800,000 loss in the year to last July.

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Mr Thirlwell said: "Hotel Chocolat's brand destiny is to become a leading premium chocolate brand in major markets through reinventing chocolate for people and nature.

"In Mars we have found a true meeting of minds - in strong cultural values, bold strategy and true long-termism.

"By partnering with Mars, we can grow our international presence much more quickly using their skills, expertise and capabilities.

The pillars on which we have built the Hotel Chocolat brand - originality, authenticity and ethical trading, is precisely what brought Hotel Chocolat and Mars together.

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He added: “I'm excited about the future of the business and in Mars we have found an excellent long-term steward of the Hotel Chocolat brand and everything we stand for."

Andrew Clarke, Global President of Mars Snacking, said: "We have long admired the fantastic business that Angus, Peter and the Hotel Chocolat team have created.

"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.

"Building on the strong foundations that Angus, Peter and their team have established, we are very excited to support Hotel Chocolat's next phase of growth.”

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“We are confident that Mars will be an excellent long-term home for Hotel Chocolat, providing a like-minded, entrepreneurial and purpose-led environment in which to maximise the potential of the Hotel Chocolat brand which is already so beloved by consumers."