Belfast Telegraph

Thorntons hopeful of festive cheer

Supermarket sales of Thorntons chocolate boxes are continuing to offset pressure on the company's shrinking high street estate.

The group said total sales rose 2.1% to £47 million in the 14 weeks to October 5, despite a 5.7% decline to £23.2 million at its retail arm.

Thornton's commercial operation, which includes sales to other retailers such as supermarkets, grew sales by 11% to £23.8 million in the period and now represents the biggest part of the business.

Chief executive Jonathan Hart said he was pleased with the performance of the two operating divisions in the quarter.

He added that Thorntons had an "exciting Christmas offer" and a strong order book in place for its commercial division.

"This puts us in a good position ahead of the key Christmas trading period," he added.

The decline in retail sales came as it closed eight stores in the period, resulting in a portfolio of 288 stores at the end of the quarter.

Like-for-like sales, which exclude changes in store space, were 0.4% lower than a year earlier.

The City is forecasting profits of £7.2 million for the year to June, compared with the £ 5.6 million reported last month and the previous year's figure of £ 850,000.