Thorntons cuts staff costs as profits fall 40 per cent

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The Independent Online

The “vast majority” of staff at Thorntons have taken up its offer of flexible working this year, the confectioner said yesterday, as it revealed that hefty pre-Christmas discounting had dragged down its interim profits by nearly 40 per cent.

Thorntons, which has more than 4,000 employees, said that most staff have had accepted one of its flexible working options, including sabbaticals, one week’s unpaid leave and working hours in line with peaks and troughs in store trade. The cost-cutting measures were revealed as Thorntons, which has 642 company-owned and franchise stores, posted interim pre-tax profits down 39 per cent to £7.3m for the |28 weeks ended 10 January.

Mike Davies, the chief executive, said: “The biggest impact on profits was the fact that we needed to discount and promote in the six to eight week period before Christmas.” The confectioner’s gross margin fell from 51.5 per cent to 49.2 per cent. Its retail like-for-like sales fell 3.7 per cent over the 28 weeks.

Thorton’s interim dividend was cut to 1.2p.