Database Builder The sweet smell of success for hotel chocolat data recovery plan

Database Builder The sweet smell of success for hotel chocolat data recovery plan

Thirlwell, the son of Edwin Thirlwell who started Prontaprint, KallKwik and the Mr Whippy ice-cream brand, started his own entrepreneurial career when he met Harris almost three decades ago. They convinced each other to quit the Cambridge-based technology company they worked for and instead launch a branded confectionery business specialising in corporate gifts.

Database Builder The sweet smell of success for hotel chocolat data recovery plan

“It seemed so boring to hand


out a pen with your company name and we thought it would be much better for companies to have a refreshing pack of mints”, he says, grinning and sheepishly aware of how dated the concept seems now. They started their pragmatically named “Mint Marketing Company” with £10,000 of personal loans and grew it to £3m of turnover. Database Cardinality Thirlwell modestly says he proved “so evangelical no one could avoid being sold to”. The duo then spotted a niche in the market for sending gifts, at a time when options were limited to “flowers or nothing”. Fundamentals Of Database Systems They joined the dotcom wave and survived, launching an online retail company that sent boxes of chocolate through the post.

Database Builder The sweet smell of success for hotel chocolat data recovery plan

Thirlwell said he was determined for “Choc Express”, as it was known then, to return to the level of quality before rationing in the Second World War meant sugar was substituted for cocoa. “Sugar is also one-twentieth the price of cocoa and extends the shelf-life, so you can see why the big companies keep it that way,” he explains. Instead, Thirlwell headed off in a van across the Channel on a tour of Belgian chocolatiers, on what he calls his “Flanders Quest”. “I went to 12 addresses and looked at what they made, ensured they had the right philosophy, the right machinery and skills for what we wanted. Os X Data Recovery Free I said ‘could you make this for me a bit less sweet and add a few cocoa nibs and put a couple of stripes on?’ and they protested until I said I would order 10,000 in one go.” By 1998 word had spread of the artisanal chocolate deliveries and by harnessing its database of online customers the company had created a “chocolate tasting club” with 30,000 members who would taste-test new product innovations. In 2000 Thirlwell realised the company needed to sound more luxurious and, inspired by Juliette Binoche’s seductive pronunciation in the film Chocolat, Hotel Chocolat was born, at a time when having a hotel was still very much an aspiration. “Instead of an intimidating process we wanted to make it open for people to enjoy and pick up what they like.” Hotel Chocolat’s future took a different course when, shortly after opening its first shops, Thirlwell was sent a book on chocolate-making in the 1920s from one of his tasting club members and started reading it on a plane to visit his father in Barbados. “I was there in the Caribbean sun, reading this book about plantations and how chocolate used to be made and sourced and I was utterly inspired.” After convincing co-founder Harris, which proved much easier once he also had a taste of island life, they bought the oldest cocoa plantation on St Lucia, the 130 acre Rabot estate. At the time St Lucia’s cocoa industry was at an all-time low with workers so badly paid that they were leaving cocoa pods to rot on the trees.

Database Journal Hotel Chocolat’s purchase revived the trade after convincing workers of its ethical programme which meant that farmers were paid a higher price for their harvest and could reinvest in the land. The company now works with 167 farmers and sells cocoa bars using the Rabot estate beans which are shipped and made at Hotel Chocolat’s manufacturing facility in Cambridgeshire. Since originally starting with a 40pc cocoa bar of milk chocolate, the company now makes rich, 100pc cocoa dark chocolate from Rabot Estate beans which Thirlwell likens to “sashimi, because there’s nowhere to hide with the quality”. Hotel Chocolat’s chocolate tasting club proved to be even more valuable than just picking the next seasonal recipe, as Thirlwell spotted the opportunity to use his most loyal customers as a way to finance the company’s growth. Four years ago the company launched the world’s first ever “chocolate bond”, which paid dividends to investors in chocolate boxes rather than cash. Database Synonym And after three years, investors were returned the money, which Thirlwell argues proved a much less risky option than some current crowd funding rounds. The company’s first bond raised £3.5m to help fund more machinery while a second launch in 2014 raised a further £3.5m to fund its expansion.

Database Is In Transition At the same time, the number of its tasting club members has grown to 70,000. Despite starting life as an online retailer the company now has 84 shops and employs more than 1,200 people. Data Recovery Illustrator However, Thirlwell, unsurprisingly given his disposition, isn’t fazed by the current gloom that pervades the high street. “We think that stores are essential, because for something as tactile, sensorial and experiential as chocolate it’s one of the most pulse-quickening products that there is”, Thirlwell reasons. “If customers couldn’t smell it, taste it and hear the stories it would be a missed opportunity.

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” Thirlwell’s obsession with chocolate is obsessive, even likening it to his “crack cocaine”. “There are a million reasons to eat dark chocolate; it boosts your cognitive facilities, awakens the body and keeps you happy and focused. Gif Database We know that the 100pc cocoa bars are now being bought by athletes, cyclists and people on paleo diets for their health benefits.” Hotel Chocolat, which is also trialling three shops in Copenhagen ahead of an overseas expansion push, has started introducing cafes into its shops, which offer another revenue stream, while diners can have chips with cacao ketchup at its Rabot restaurant. Last year the company overtook Thorntons in sales and its growth has attracted interest from buyers, which led it to hiring advisers at PwC to explore selling a partial stake in the company to private equity firms.

However, Thirlwell and Harris opted against it. Data Recovery Free “Private equity is a good model for lots of companies but both me and Peter want to stay with the company and be guardians of the brand for a long time and that doesn’t really fit with the private equity model but it does with floating on Aim.” However, with such momentum behind the company, why is it risking it at a time of such uncertainty in the markets? “Our analysis is it’s the right time for us,” says Thirlwell. Data Recovery Equipment Tools “The advice we have been given is that we are a strong brand with a strong business and that in nine out of 10 turbulent conditions we can make this work.” So once Hotel Chocolat is floated will Thirlwell be disappearing off, cocoa-infused cocktail in hand to the Caribbean sun? “Not at all, it’s like we’ve had the hors d’oeuvre and now we’re on to the starter. Database Xml We have so much more we want to do.”

Database Builder The sweet smell of success for hotel chocolat data recovery plan

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