Mars to acquire British chocolatier for $662M
Mars' Bidco subsidiary will buy Hotel Chocolat
A subsidiary of McLean-based international candy and pet food manufacturer Mars, the largest privately held company in Virginia, has agreed to acquire Britain’s Hotel Chocolat for $662 million, Mars announced Thursday.
Bidco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mars, will acquire Britain’s largest chocolate maker in a cash offer at 375 pence per share, or about $662 million, in a deal that will help the brand continue expansion.
Reuters reported Thursday that Hotel Chocolat CEO and co-founder Angus Thrilwell will continue to lead the company for the next five years. Thirlwell founded the company with Peter Harris in 2003, though they started selling chocolates online in 1993, according to Hotel Chocolat’s website. Mars said it intends to maintain Hotel Chcolat’s brand.
“We have long admired the fantastic business that Angus, Peter and the Hotel Chocolat team have created,” Andrew Clarke, global president of Mars Snacking, said in a statement. “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. The Mars and Hotel Chocolat businesses are highly complementary, and during the course of our discussions with Hotel Chocolat’s leadership it has also become clear that there is a very strong cultural fit — with purpose at the heart of both organizations and a shared passion for quality and sustainability.”
In a news release, Mars said the company believes the acquisition will strengthen its presence in the United Kingdom. It has operated there since 1932 and has about 10,000 employees. Hotel Chocolat opened in North London in 2004 and now has 131 stores in the U.K., as well as cafes, restaurants, outlets and factory stores, and a luxury hotel on the company’s cocoa farm in the Caribbean overlooking a UNESCO world heritage site. It also has 21 stores in Japan through a brand licensing and supply agreement with a local partner, according to a news release.
As of July, Hotel Chocolat had 2,339 employees, according to the company’s annual report.
Known for its M&Ms and Snickers candy brands, Mars is the fourth largest privately held company in the nation. With $45 billion in sales in 2022, it has approximately 140,000 employees in 80 countries. Its divisions include Mars Petcare, which runs an international network of 2,000 pet hospitals, roughly half of which are operated by U.S. subsidiary Banfield Pet Hospital.