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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz invests in Tony’s Chocolonely

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Dive Brief:

  • Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has purchased a 2% stake in the slave-free chocolate maker Tony’s Chocolonely. The company declined to say how much Schultz invested.
  • Douglas Lamont, CEO of Tony’s Chocolonely, said in a statement that Schultz would allow the chocolate producer to benefit from “his extensive experience of building a global consumer brand and company.”    
  • Since 2020, Tony’s Chocolonely has nearly quadrupled its business in the US, and today has a presence in major retailers such as Whole Foods, Target, Safeway and CVS. Revenue last year surged 23% to $162 million.

Dive Insight:

As consumers increasingly prioritize where their food is grown, Tony’s Chocolonely has thrived by committing to pay West African cocoa farmers a living income to help combat child labor. Its success has attracted investors captivated by its rapid growth and positive ethical message. Just last year, it raised more than $20 million from existing shareholders to grow its business.

Now, the company is welcoming Schultz who not only gives the nearly 20-year-old New York City-based company financing it can use to grow its business further and expand on its mission but an advisor who has experience growing a business into a global giant. When Schultz took over Starbucks, it had nearly a dozen locations; by the end of 2025 it’s aiming to have 45,000 stores.

As Tony’s Chocolonely further expands its presence in retailers such as Walmart while expanding its reach into other stores, it’s no longer a tiny upstart servicing a few locations. It needs insight from someone who has grown a business, and few have been able to replicate what Schultz accomplished. “Tony’s rapid revenue growth, rising popularity with US consumers and increased investor interest demonstrates that building a company that balances shareholder returns with its impact on people and planet is not [the] only right thing to do but the smart thing to do for companies today,” Lamont said.

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