Thorntons gets taste of success as profit returns

 
Kasmira Jefford
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THORNTONS customers have rediscovered their sweet tooth as the chocolatier reported a return to profit yesterday, thanks to strong appetite from grocers and the launch of new products.

Profit before tax and exceptional items jumped to £5.6m in the year to 29 June from £0.9m the previous year, the retailer said yesterday, beating City forecasts.
Chief executive Jonathan Hart said revenues, which rose 1.8 per cent to £221.1m, were driven by sales of products to grocers and other third party retailers, which were up 11.2 per cent.
Thorntons has also revived its range, launching new treats and “year-round chocolate gifting” to boost sales outside of the Christmas and Easter seasons.
Overall revenues from Thorntons’ own stores declined by eight per cent to £102.5m, which it blamed on the closure of 35 branches during the year.
“We are on track with our store closure programme but will retain a sizeable store portfolio demonstrating our continued commitment to the high street,” said Hart. He added that the 11 stores that had been refitted were also “performing well” and receiving positive customer feedback.
However franchise sales declined 20.6 per cent to £8.5m, mainly as a result of one of its major franchisees Clintons falling into administration.
Hart, who was cautiously optimistic in his outlook, said the group had “strong trading plans in place” for the Christmas period.