Thorntons in profit warning as sales falter

THORNTONS issued a profit warning yesterday, becoming the latest retailer to flag a worsening consumer environment and announce plans to close stores as spending habits change.

The chocolatier, which has 371 owned stores and 229 franchise outlets, said profit before tax and one-off items fell 8.5 per cent to £8.3m in the 28 weeks to 8 January, due in part to severe winter weather around Christmas and to the rising cost of raw material like cocoa.

Thorntons said it expected underlying profits for the year to 30 June would be around the previous year’s level of £6.1m, compared with analysts’ average forecast of £6.8m.

New chief executive Jonathan Hart said the firm will take advantage of over 200 lease expiries in the coming years to reshape its business.

“I think it’s clear that the size of the portfolio is going to be reduced going forward.”

However he said that all 200 stores would not be offloaded.