Thorntons' sales start to crack with online 'glitch' over vital Easter period

Thorntons faces online sales melting over its crucial Easter trading period after it admitted to a "glitch" with its delivery system.

The retailer, which has 317 stores, sent out an email yesterday morning apologising to customers and explaining it was not too late for them to order chocolates for Easter Sunday.

The hiccup will raise eyebrows among investors in Thorntons, as it follows "operational issues" with its new website that had a "significant impact" on its sales over Christmas.

Easter is one of the most crucial trading periods for chocolatiers, along with Christmas, Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.

In an email to customers on Thursday morning, Thorntons said: "We are so sorry if you were unable to place your order for Easter delivery through the website in the last 24 hours. This glitch with our delivery system has now been fixed and we are ready to process your order right now!"

Thorntons, which plans to close up to 180 stores over the three years to June 2014, has offered web customers a 10 per cent promotional discount, "as a thank you for sticking with us".

The 102-year-old retailer told web customers if they ordered by 1pm yesterday it will deliver eggs and other treats for Easter Sunday and said the error had been quickly rectified.

A Thorntons spokeswoman said: "Since 5pm on Wednesday, Thorntons' website incorrectly indicated that the next available delivery date was after Easter rather than the correct date of Easter Saturday. This was caused by a human error and was corrected by 9.15am this [Thursday] morning."

She added: "All orders affected will be delivered by Easter Saturday. This is not connected to the website issues Thorntons experienced before Christmas."

Thorntons' profits jumped 71 per cent to £5.3m over the 28 weeks to 12 January, which prompted its chief executive to say last month: "There is clear evidence the strategy is working and we believe it is the right one."

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