Sales still melting at Thorntons

Sales at the chocolatier Thorntons melted by nearly 11 per cent over the past eight weeks, laying bare the scale of the turnaround facing its new chief executive and the tough trading conditions on the high street.

Thorntons tried to sweeten its statement by pointing to double-digit online sales growth and saying it was "encouraged" by forward orders for Christmas at its commercial division, which sells chocolate to supermarkets.

But like-for-like sales slumped by 10.6 per cent at its company-owned stores for the eight weeks to 26 June, though this period accounts for less than 10 per cent of annual revenues. Total sales at Thorntons – which warned on profits in May – fell by £1.9m to £20.6m.

Jonathan Hart – who became Thorntons' chief executive in January after leaving Caffe Nero – last month unveiled plans to close a "minimum" of 120 stores and explore the opportunity to shut up to 60 more over three years from its current estate of 364 outlets, in an attempt to revive its fortunes.