Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman helped Thorntons boost profits by an impressive 47 per cent as nostalgic chocolate lovers snapped up edible versions.
A licence to sell the recognisable figure along with sales of toffee and fudge helped pretax profits for the six months to January 11 hit £7.2 million, with sales up 4.5 per cent to £139.7 million.
Thorntons’ business to supply supermarkets — the most profitable part of the company and now busy with Easter — was up 14.5 per cent to £70.6 million and overtakes its retail business for the first time as chief executive Jonathan Hart continues a three-year plan to reduce stores to between 180 and 200 from historical highs of nearly 400.
Another 40 stores will shut by the end of the year and shareholders appear to welcome the plans, as the share price has jumped 160 per cent in the past 12 months.
Today it was up 1.8p at 155.3p. Hart said: “We were most pleased with the Snowman licence, which helped us grow our seasonal specialities over 60 per cent”
He added that the public health debate around sugar has not affected sales and that customers were clear that Thorntons is a treat and not to be enjoyed every day.