Telling the truth about SME life today

Speaking at Real Business Funding: Peter Harris

Real Business Funding, our first ever event to illuminate the best sources of funding for your business, is only two months away. Meet the entrepreneurs, investors, and experts who will help us shed light on the finance market…

Today’s featured speaker is:


Peter Harris?


Hotel Chocolat

Speaking at:?

What the bond markets could do for you

In 1987, when Peter Harris and Angus Thirlwell, who worked together at Cambridge-based company Torch Computers, decided to start their own business selling corporate mints. They each put in £5,000, secured a £15,000 overdraft, and set up the Mint Marketing Company (MMC) in Angus” front room.

MMC, which had achieved sales of £1m within five years, prepared Harris and Thirlwell to expand into the consumer market with mail-order chocolates business, ChocExpress, which was rebranded to Hotel Chocolat in 2003.

The business grew impressively. Its turnover for the year ending June 2011 was ?60m, a 13 per cent rise on the previous year, and it has 800 employees in the UK and another 130 overseas. Whenever Hotel Chocolat needed finance for growth it turned to its long-term banking partner, Lloyds. In 2010, however, it raised £4m by offering Chocolate Tasting Club members a three-year chocolate bond, which offers returns payable in delivered chocolate.

Harris has been able to balance fast organic growth with good profitability and has enabled the business to be listed on the Sunday Times / Virgin Atlantic Fast Track 100 on three occasions. He has also worked as a business mentor for The Princes Trust and has helped three different businesses to establish themselves.

He won the Ernst & Young National Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008 with co-founder Angus Thirlwell, and also co-founded Geneiva Chocolates (corporate chocolates), Hotel Chocolat Stores (chocolate shops), Hotel Chocolat Estates (cocoa estate in St Lucia), Hotel Chocolat Inc (US shops and online), Hotel Chocolat Europe ?(shops in Amsterdam & Copenhagen) and Boucan Hotel & Restaurant in St Lucia.

Peter Harris will be speaking at?Real Business Funding, the free conference toilluminate the new, more plural funding environment for growing SMEs. Join us on”March 15, 2013, at the British Library, and join the discussion on Twitter at #unleashingfinance.


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