U.K.-based Hotel Chocolat, an upscale European chocolatier that launched a U.S. Website in October 2007, is set to unveil its first U.S. retail store. Hotel Chocolat’s 1,200 sq. ft. retail store on Boston’s Newbury St. in Boston will open by the end of next week.
Why Boston? “It’s a very cosmopolitan city with a fantastic mix of downtown residents, commuting business executives and tourists who know and frequent Newbury Street and would be likely to appreciate a distinctive quality brand,” says Nicki Doggart, the company’s U.S. CEO.
The Boston store is “a sleek boutique that is staffed with expertly trained chocolate concierges and a one of a kind Tasting Room (Hotel Chocolat’s first worldwide) where private chocolate events, tastings and receptions can be booked,” Doggart says.
The company plans to open two more U.S. stores by year’s end, she says, one more in Boston and one likely in New York.
Based in Royston, U.K., Hotel Chocolat was founded as a catalog titled ChocExpress in 1993 by Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris. The company, which launched a Website in 1997, changed its name to Hotel Chocolat in 2003 to prepare for retail expansion. The first Hotel Chocolat store opened in 2004; today it has more than 35 stores in the U.K.
Since its U.S. Website launch nearly two years ago, Doggart says the company has seen “fantastic growth” that has reinforced its decision to open bricks-and-mortar stores. “Americans have come to know that we are always inventing new flavors and seasonal gift packages, just like a fashion catalog or wine vintages.”
By combining its online presence with retail stores, Doggart says “it’s the perfect combination to provide the fun experience of a unique check-in to Hotel Chocolat and then being able to replicate a part of it in the convenience of your living room or office with a quick click–or share the experience with someone else.”
Doggart believes a retail presence will significantly increase the merchant’s brand awareness and support both its store expansion and online customer base.
“We also communicate with chocolate connoisseurs online, so we are committed to the multichannel marketing concept as a driver for our brand as we take our story about our plantation, our unique engaged ethics program and other facets of our product’s exceptional quality,” she says.