Thorntons warns prices could rise

Thorntons dealt chocolate-lovers a blow yesterday as it became the latest confectioner to warn soaring cocoa costs could soon lead to price rises.

Cocoa has surged 25 per cent in recent months to 38-year highs due to poor harvests and increasing global demand. Major confectioners such as Cadbury and Nestlé have recently raised prices by up to 7 per cent as a result.

Mark Robson, the finance director and interim chief executive since Mike Davies retired last month, said Thorntons had not yet raised prices. "We do try to hedge this as far as possible and to buy forward in the market to mitigate against rising input costs," he said. "But if prices continue to go up and up, it could come to a point where we do pass it on."

Thorntons also posted a 7.4 per cent rise in sales in its first quarter to 2 October, as gains in its commercial and online divisions offset falls in like-for-like sales on the high street.

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