Chocolatier Hotel Chocolat (HOTC:AIM) has agreed to buy the 53% stake it doesn’t already own in Rabot 1745, the joint venture behind the group’s beauty offer, for a total cash consideration of just £4.
Rabot reported a £400,000 loss for the year to June 2020, which might explain the lukewarm reaction to the news with Hotel Chocolat’s shares 0.3% easier at 368p, yet house broker Liberum Capital believes full ownership should see Rabot ‘begin to turn a profit versus the current slight loss’.
Rabot was established in 2016 as a joint venture between Hotel Chocolat and non-executive chairman Andrew Gerrie to develop a range of beauty products ‘inspired by the wild beauty’ of the company’s Saint Lucian cacao farm and rainforest spa.
Hotel Chocolat and Gerrie own 47% and 40.5% of Rabot respectively, with the balance held by non-related parties.
The posh chocolates maker is snapping up the remaining 53%, including the 40.5% held by Gerrie, for a total cash consideration of just £4.
Led by charismatic co-founder and CEO Angus Thirlwell, management believes Hotel Chocolat is well placed to ‘leverage the value of the Rabot inventory and to further develop the brand’s intellectual property, which includes a range of high-quality beauty products which have attracted multiple awards and favourable customer reviews’.
As Liberum points out, Hotel Chocolat’s beauty range is ‘particularly popular across its UK channels, St Lucia and Japan’, while the deal will also support ‘an ongoing brand-enhancing, point of differentiation versus other chocolate players’.
The integration of the joint venture operations should enable Rabot to chalk up a profit, says the broker.
In May, Hotel Chocolat upgraded profit expectations for the year ended 27 June 2021 following tasty Mother’s Day and Easter trading.
Though its brick and mortar shops were closed for much of the eight weeks to 25 April 2021 including Easter and Mother’s Day, Hotel Chocolat generated sweet sales growth through its digital channels and subscription products.