Thorntons plummet to 12-month low

Retail sales down 10.9% as more stores were closed while chocolatier focuses on supermarket business

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The Independent Online

The boss of chocolatier Thorntons failed to convince investors that a near 12 per cent fall in sales was just a blip on the road to transforming the business, as shares fell to a 12-month low.

Jonathan Hart has been implementing his plan to shut dozens of High Street stores and focus on the more-lucrative, fast-moving consumer goods business by selling chocolate boxes directly to supermarkets and department stores.

But a switch in the timings of orders in that division sent sales down 12.8 per cent in the three months to October 4. Retail sales were also down 10.9 per cent as  12 more stores were closed, leaving 249. It means that the company has shut more than 100 stores in the past three years.

 

Hart explained: “We anticipated that sales for this quarter would be below last year as a result of the increasingly fluctuating order patterns in our UK commercial channel. As we demonstrated last year, these variances do not necessarily affect overall annual performance.”

However, although he said full-year profit is still expected to hit around £9.6 million, shares fell 9 per cent to 90p.

Last month, Thorntons’ sales to supermarkets overtook High Street sales for the first time, as the business untied itself from onerous leases.

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