Hotel Chocolat, the London-based chocolate retail chain, has found a unique, out-of-the-chocolate box solution to help finance its expansion at home and abroad -- “chocolate bonds.”
As part of its effort to open more stores in the United Kingdom and in Europe, while simultaneously expanding its manufacturing site in the United Kingdom and investing in its plantation in St. Lucia -- a projected investment of $7.2 million -- the company has launched chocolate bonds available to its "chocolate tasting club" members. And while companies asking shareholders or members for funds for expansion is nothing new, rarely do shareholders receive returns in chocolate.
As a result, Hotel Chocolat members can invest GBP2,000 ($2,916) or GBP4,000 ($5,832) 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" with the "positive reaction" it has received.
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