Thorntons revels in sweet profit figures

THORNTONS reported a 25 per cent rise in first half profits yesterday – with the company hoping its new ice cream lines will boost summer figures.

Pre-tax profits jumped to £9.1m in the 28 weeks to 9 January as the group managed to shift most of its Christmas stock.

Thorntons’ chocolates are sold through supermarkets as well as other retailers; it also runs 378 stores operating under its brand name.

Although like-for-like sales at its 378 stores fell 4.4 per cent in the second quarter because of its decision not to cut prices, the group grew online sales leapt by 11.5 per cent.

The UK-based chocolatier is seeking to have a more even performance throughout the year with its recently launched Praline melts among the lines the company hoped will further boost its fortunes.

Chief executive Mike Davies said: “We expect to be able to continue to improve our performance in the second half, which is historically loss-making.”

Meanwhile, Thorntons’ commercial sales to retailers jumped 6.5 per cent during the period despite the loss of business from failed high street retailer Woolworths.

But trading was dented by the administration of the Birthdays greeting card chain last May, which was a franchise partner of the group. Thorntons lost 94 stores as a result, with franchise sales down 17 per cent to £8.2m.