HOTEL Chocolat has added to mounting consumer misery in the run-up to Christmas as the group revealed it is hiking prices across its chocolate ranges.

The posh choccy chain has shops on Northgate Street in Chester and on Cheshire Oaks.

Co-founder and chief executive, Angus Thirlwell, told the PA news agency that the luxury chocolate retailer is increasing prices in response to higher costs, increased lorry driver wage hikes and further investment in its cocoa farming communities.

He said the move would see prices increased across a number of products in its chocolate ranges from alcohol to chocolate collections – many of which have not seen price rises for five years.

He said: “We’re moving to increase prices now to protect quality and make this important investment into sustainable cocoa farming.

“There’s quite a bit of inflation around in the supply chain – some of it is temporary and will unwind, while some isn’t.”

It comes as the group joins businesses across the UK in battling cost pressures, with inflation rising for everything from raw ingredients to gas and electricity.

Mr Thirlwell also said the group moved to give its team of lorry drivers “chunky” double-digit percentage pay rises to secure staff amid the HGV driver shortage.

And, with the group’s UK-based distribution and chocolate factory in Huntingdon, it has been able to avoid the supply and stock issues that have blighted many other retailers and UK firms.

Mr Thirlwell said: “It means we’ll have really good availability of Hotel Chocolat products for Christmas and there won’t be any empty shelves.”