Chocolatier Thorntons in festive mood as growth gathers pace

 
Kasmira Jefford
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THORNTONS yesterday said sales had got off to a strong start in the first quarter of the year as the confectioner’s turnaround strategy continued to gather pace.

Revenues rose 2.1 per cent to £47m in the 14 weeks to 5 October, driven by sales to supermarkets and other third party retailers, which leapt 11 per cent to £23.8m in the period.

Retail sales declined by 5.7 per cent to £23.2m as a result of eight store closures, while like-for-like sales declined by 0.4 per cent.

Thorntons, which embarked on a three-year turnaround plan last year, is aiming to scale back its estate to 200 stores and grow its commercial and online channels.

The Derbyshire-based group now has 288 owned stores and around 186 franchises across the UK.

“We are pleased with the performance of both our operating divisions in the first quarter,” chief executive Jonathan Hart, said.

“We have an exciting Christmas offer across the business and are encouraged by the strong order book within our FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) division. This puts us in a good position ahead of the key Christmas trading period.”

Investec analysts cautioned that with the major selling seasons ahead “it was still too early” to draw any conclusions from the update.

Thorntons’ online business, returned to growth, with sales up 14.2 per cent while its franchise arm reported sales of 17.3 per cent.