Thorntons’ shares rise as activist investor Crystal Amber lifts stake

Kasmira Jefford
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SHARES in chocolatier Thorntons surged more than four per cent yesterday after activist investor Crystal Amber once again increased its stake in the company.

Crystal Amber, which also owns shares in retailer N Brown, has boosted its holding to 7.06 per cent as it bets on a recovery at the firm.

This comes just a month after the investor raised its holding to 6.5 per cent from 4.25 per cent in April.

Crystal Amber’s investment adviser Richard Bernstein said in February that it wanted Thorntons’ management to accelerate its store closure programme. However it has since changed it stance and now believes there is scope for Thorntons to significantly boost its margins.

“We think that the company is substantially undervalued by the stock market and we can see operating margins doubling,” Bernstein told City A.M. yesterday.

“We’ve recently done some work on the changes in the perception of the brand and the customer experience in store and we’re impressed with these results,” he added.

Thorntons posted a 2.1 per cent rise in first quarter revenues last week as its three-year turnaround plan, which it embarked upon last year, continued to gather pace.