The chocolatier Thorntons saw its underlying sales fall back into negative territory in its first quarter and said it was "cautious" in its outlook for Christmas.
Following a sustained period of underperformance, the UK's biggest confectionery chain had trumpeted a return to growth in the final weeks of the previous year, but yesterday it posted a 1.7 per cent fall in like-for-like sales for the 14 weeks to 6 October.
Jonathan Hart, the chief executive, said: "Consumer spending and the wider economy remain weak and difficult to predict. We are therefore cautious in our outlook for the peak trading season ahead and have set our plans accordingly."
Sales at non-franchise stores fell 7 per cent to £21.7m. Its commercial division was strong, with sales up 9.8 per cent to £21.2m.
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