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Hotel Chocolat, the chocolatier and retailer, beat expectations with a 28 per cent rise in pre-tax profits in the first half of its financial year.

Reporting results for the six months to December 25, it said it had had a “very successful” Christmas, with online sales having “significantly increased”.

Earnings per share of 7.8p were ahead of broker Finncap’s prediction of 7.5p, and revenues rose 14 per cent to £62.5m, compared with the same period a year earlier.

The company has already made a habit of beating expectations since it floated on Aim last May, and the shares closed on Tuesday 73 per cent above the IPO price.

It said it intends to start paying a dividend at the end of its financial year, “subject to the continued performance of the business in the balance of the year”.

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