Knoops wants its name to be synonymous with hot chocolate, in the way the Hoover is for vacuum cleaners, executive chairman William Gordon-Harris has told MCA.

Speaking just after the business opened its ninth hot chocolate shop, in Knightsbridge, he said Knoops is on target to have 15 sites open by July, with Manchester and Bath opening soon, and sites in the pipeline in St Albans, Notting Hill, South Kensington and St John’s Wood.

The business, founded by Jens Knoop, is also keen to explore further opportunities outside Central and Greater London, as is looking in cities such as Leeds, York, Chester and Edinburgh.

“The prize is so big. It’s probably the biggest opportunity I’ve ever seen […] and with the right infrastructure it could definitely go global.”

In the UK, Gordon-Harris said he believed Knoops could reach between 120-150 shops, as part of plans to open 3,000 shops globally.

“When we get to 15 sites we will set the rate of growth. We could do 20 a year quite easily… we could do 40 if we want to ramp up.”

In terms of expansion overseas, he said the business was getting around five franchise requests a day from places like the US, China and the Middle East.

Gordon-Harris came onboard in 2019 after getting to know the business as a customer of its then single site in Rye – which opened in 2013. After spotting the potential to expand the business, he offered to work with Knoop to scale it up, putting together a team of funders and opening its first site in London.


Although Gordon-Harris, whose background is in law and finance, has significant experience in early-stage investments and had initially anticipated Knoops being another hands-off investment, but he quickly realised that Knoop was much better suited to the role of ‘master distiller’ and that he would have to get much more involved in building the business.

The business is currently seeing a lot of property opportunities cross its path, with landlords now approaching them. “We like quirky sites […] and because we are a category, we believe we can drive slightly off pitch and have very great success. We are driving people there for a purpose,” he said.

Knoops does all offer tea and coffee, but around 88% of the drinks it sells – even in the summer – are chocolate drinks (hot chocolate, iced chocolate drinks and milkshakes) of which there are 22 different chocolate strengths and style of cacao that customers can choose from, as well as other ingredients such as salt, matcha and Szechuan pepper that customers can customise their drinks with.

In addition to the drinks and small selection of baked goods it sells in it shops – with the latter making up less than 10% of sales, Knoops also sells retail products, such as chocolate flakes, shakers and marshmallows, in its shops, as well as through Selfridges, Harrods and Wholefoods, with the retail arm currently contributing sub 20% of sales.