Thorntons' supermarket sales beat stores

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.

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