SHARES in Thorntons fell seven per cent yesterday after the chocolatier posted a slump in sales at stores open more than a year, despite enjoying a lift in total revenue.
Total sales for the 14 weeks to 12 January increased by 5.4 per cent to £4.5m, boosted by commercial sales which rose by 26.4 per cent to £34.7m.
Thorntons said its total share of the chocolate box market increased from 11.7 to 12.1 per cent.
But own store sales declined by nine per cent, primarily due to store closures, with like-for-like sales falling by 1.3 per cent.
The retailer, which has 317 own-stores and 189 franchise outlets, closed 27 under-performing stores in the last year as part of its turnaround plan after issuing a profit warning in 2011.
Jonathan Hart, chief executive said: “We enter the second half of our financial year with profits in line with our expectations and ahead of last year....We are confident in our strategy and the actions we are taking but remain cautious given the continuing challenge of the economic climate.”
Panmure Gordon analyst Philip Dorgan said this “is a clear sign that its strategic plan to rebalance its sales towards commercial and thereby restore its profitability to industry competitive returns is beginning to work.”