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Hotel Chocolat Agrees Share Issue Ahead Of Coronavirus Hit

British chocolatier Hotel Chocolat said on Friday it had agreed an issue of new shares that would inject £20 million into the business, as it faces having to close its cafe and store locations due to Britain's coronavirus lockdown.

The luxury chocolate maker, retailer and wholesaler said it would issue just under 8.9 million new shares at 225 pence a share, a discount from Thursday's last close of 232 pence.

Co-founders Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris would buy roughly 10% each of the new shares, the statement said.

While companies have been drawing down cash from existing financing arrangements as the extent of the coronavirus crisis became clear in the past fortnight, few have secured fresh investment as banks and investors await more stable market conditions before making decisions on risk and pricing.

High Street retailer Laura Ashley announced plans to call in administrators this week due to the outbreak's impact on its performance and its inability to secure more backing.

Impact Of Coronavirus

Hotel Chocolat said the year had started off well with a 6% rise in revenue last month, but that it now expects to close stores while customers isolate at home.

"The Company's trading in March-to-date has inevitably slowed as the outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted footfall both in the UK and internationally with group retail revenue having decreased by 5% year-on-year in March-to-date," the UK-listed company said.

UK Mother's Day on March 22 and the Easter holiday, when Britons spend heavily on chocolate easter eggs, typically make up around 12% of the company's overall annual revenue.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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