Thorntons Christmas sales below expectations
The chocolate maker said profitability had also been hit by the "high level of promotional activity across the market".
Thorntons said that store closures and the continuing tough retail environment, had resulted in sales at its own stores falling 6.8% to £44.9 million in the 14 weeks to 7 January. Like-for-like sales fell 4.2% while the group’s total sales increased by 0.6% to £83.7 million. Franchise sales declined by 17.5% to £4.1 million.
Thorntons Direct sales increased by 8.1% to £5.5 million and online sales grew 13% year-on-year.
Regarding the outlook, Jonathan Hart, Thorntons' chief executive, said: "We expect continued weakness in consumer sentiment throughout 2012. This reaffirms our strategy to rebalance the business, create a smaller retail estate, revitalise our brand and most importantly restore profitability over the next three years."
He added: "Looking ahead, we have a strong spring range and our Commercial sales orders for Easter are in line with our expectations. We anticipate continued growth within this channel by the year-end."
Thorntons operates a total of 574 wholly-owned and franchised UK stores of which 180 will close in the next three years.
Last month the chocolate maker warned on profits, saying that it expected to break even in the year to 30 June.
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