Retail Insider, in partnership with Novomind, held its second Zoom Cocktail Hour with Angus Thirlwell, CEO of Hotel Chocolat, who revealed how developments at the business had been dramatically accelerated as a result of Covid-19.

As the lockdown hit Hotel Chocolat relied solely on its website and this has continued deliver significant online sales uplifts. This has prompted new methods to be employed in its distribution centres. Among them is enhanced flexibility whereby the business could immediately switch to operating entirely online if the circumstances required it again.

At the moment though the focus is more on reopening the company’s 125 physical stores. Around 100 units have so far been brought back to trading, with simplified operations helped by measures such as cutting the range by a third.

The tasting club has also been put under the microscope and the plan in September is to have two new strands to the division involving an experimental club, whereby members get to try new products, and a curated collections club, with members receiving selections tailored to their preferences.

Although Angus clearly recognised the damage wrought by Covid-19 he also highlighted how there would be some benefits to Hotel Chocolat on it focusing the business’s attention on innovating in a much more accelerated manner. This would invariably bring advantages in the future.

Retail Insider would very much like to thank Angus Thirlwell for sharing his insights into the Hotel Chocolat business and also to Novomind for supporting this series of Retail Insider Zoom Cocktail Hours.