Thorntons is hoping for a bumper Easter

THORNTONS is banking on Mother’s Day and Easter to boost sales as it plans to close 40 stores this year, after posting a 71 per cent rise in half-year profits yesterday.

The high street chocolatier said profit before tax and one-off items jumped to £5.3m from £2.2m, while total revenues rose by 2.9 per cent to £133.7m, in the 28 weeks to 12 January.

Own-store sales fell 8.3 per cent to £62.6m, due to the closure of 13 stores in line with the company’s long-term strategy.

Franchise sales also declined 25.4 per cent to £5m, mainly as a result of key partner Clinton Cards going into administration last May.

Chief executive John Hart was encouraged by its half-year performance and said that trading over Easter and Mother’s Day will define its full-year outcome.

The group, which ended the first half with 317 stores, expects to close 40 more this year as it works towards a core estate of between 180 and 200 sites.