LONDON, March 9 (Reuters) - Chocolate maker and retailer Hotel Chocolat said it would raise 50 million pounds ($71 million) in a listing on London's junior AIM market to fund new stores and increase its manufacturing capacity.
The premium chocolatier, founded in 1993 by Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris, trades from 84 stores and recorded revenue of 81.1 million pounds and core earnings of 7.9 million pounds in the year to June 28, 2015.
The company said on Wednesday it would sell new and existing shares in the flotation, which a market source said would value the group at about 150 million pounds.
Chief Executive Angus Thirlwell said listing was the next logical step in the group's growth.
"(It) will enable us to accelerate the many initiatives that we have in place, in particular additional investment in our British chocolate manufacturing, in new stores and in our digital offering," he said.
Thirlwell and Harris, who have a 50 percent stake in the company, will sell some of their holdings, but will remain the biggest shareholders, according to the source.
$1 = 0.7030 pounds Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Mark Potter