Thorntons chief executive retires

The chief executive of Thorntons stepped down yesterday after the chocolate retailer issued its second profit warning in as many months, as like-for-like sales continued to fall and its wholesale business missed expectations.

The group said Mike Davies would retire to make way for a successor with the specific retail expertise needed to take the business forward. Mr Davies will remain in place until a candidate has been identified, and John von Spreckelsen will act as executive chairman.

Shares in the group closed down 12 per cent at a nine-month low of 87.6p. Thorntons, which has about 600 stores, said since it last updated the market on 20 April, like-for-like sales had continued to decline and it had to clear stock by discounting. It also said sales to other retailers had been lower than expected in April and early May but had since recovered. The poor trading performance meant pre-tax profit for the year before exceptionals would be lower than the £7.5m it expected in April.