Thorntons' sales of chocolates to the big supermarkets overtook those in its own stores for the first time during the last quarter.
The chocolatier unveiled the milestone as it boasted of a strong performance in the third quarter, which included the Valentine's Day, Mothering Sunday and Easter trading periods. It now expects full-year profits to be "substantially ahead" of City forecasts of £3.1m, with its house broker, Investec, pencilling in a £4.5m return.
Thorntons said its UK commercial sales, primarily to the big grocers, such as Tesco and Sainsbury's, rose by 10 per cent to £27.4m over the 14 weeks to 20 April, as opposed to the £26m which was delivered by the retailer's shops.
The company is quitting unprofitable sites and now has 309 stores, 24 fewer than a year ago.
Its online sales fell by 4.6 per cent to £2.2m over the 14 weeks, reflecting the teething problems it had after it launched its new website last year.
International sales grew 30.8 per cent to £1.1m.Reuse content