Global confectionary and pet food manufacturer Mars is set to acquire UK chocolate manufacturer and cocoa grower Hotel Chocolat for the sum of £534 million.

Hotel Chocolat stated that the agreed cash offer represented a premium of approximately 169.8% to its share price of 139p on 15th November, as co-founder and CEO Angus Thirwell reported that the business has been “held back” by supply chain challenges.

Shareholders of Hotel Chocolat will be entitled to receive 375p per share, as Mars believes it is “well-positioned” to support Hotel Chocolat’s next growth phase.

Mars said that the company’s international footprint, global supply chain and “extensive commercial relationships” could provide the Hotel Chocolat brand with an “enhanced platform for growth” in the UK and potentially globally.

Commenting on the announcement, Angus Thirlwell, chief executive officer of Hotel Chocolat said: “Hotel Chocolat’s brand destiny is to become a leading premium chocolate brand in major markets through reinventing chocolate for people and nature. In Mars we have found a true meeting of minds – in strong cultural values, bold strategy and true long-termism.

“Our Gentle Farming programme has got off to a promising start and we truly believe it can help make cocoa agriculture right for nature and for people. Joining forces with Mars to achieve an increased positive impact, is a huge attraction for us.

“We know our brand resonates with consumers overseas, but operational supply chain challenges have held us back. By partnering with Mars, we can grow our international presence much more quickly using their skills, expertise and capabilities.

“The pillars on which we have built the Hotel Chocolat brand – originality, authenticity and ethical trading, is precisely what brought Hotel Chocolat and Mars together and our intention is to strengthen and invest behind these. I’m excited about the future of the business and in Mars we have found an excellent long-term steward of the Hotel Chocolat brand and everything we stand for.”

“Complementary” businesses

Andrew Clarke, global president of Mars Snacking said: “We have long admired the fantastic business that Angus, Peter and the Hotel Chocolat team have created. 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 organisations, and a shared passion for quality and sustainability.

“Mars has a long and proud history in the UK, and today’s announcement further strengthens our commitment to this important market by bringing an exciting brand into our portfolio and deepening our relationship with consumers. Building on the strong foundations that Angus, Peter and their team have established, we are very excited to support Hotel Chocolat’s next phase of growth.”