Thorntons share price rises as CEO Jonathan Hart announces departure

CEO Jonathan Hart will step down in June
British chocolate maker Thorntons said yesterday its chief executive, Jonathan Hart, would step down by the end of June and that chief operating officer Barry Bloomer will take on the role of interim CEO.

Thorntons said it would begin a search for Hart’s successor, but did not cite any reason for the departure of the CEO, who has been at the helm for the last four years.

But investors cheered the move with shares up 3.8 per cent following the announcement.

In April, Thorntons said that third-quarter sales were almost flat, after a reduction in orders by one of its main supermarket buyers continued to hurt the chocolatier.

The company issued a profit warning in December, after an unexpected cut in orders from two grocery chains and problems at its new warehouse hit sales across its fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) division, which declined 6.7 per cent to £26.5m.

Sales across its retail arm also fell, by 5.4 per cent to £27.7m, after it closed five stores in the quarter, taking its estate to 243 owned stores, although it is aiming for an estate of around 180 to 200 stores.

Like-for-like sales were broadly flat at 0.1 per cent.

Hart previously said the company remained cautious for the rest of 2015 and that conditions were tough for many shoppers.

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