Thornton's sales rise by 4%
For the period which includes Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Easter, total sales increased by 4.0% to Â£60.6 million compared to the same period last year.
In its third quarter trading update for the 14 weeks up to and including 20 April 2013, the company revealed that branded UK Commercial sales grew by 10.0% to £27.4 million with good growth across all three seasons.
Thorntons' share of the Total Boxed Chocolate market increased from 11.7% to 12.2% in the last 52 weeks and its share of the Inlaid Boxed Chocolate market increased from 32.9% to 35.6%*. Sales of Easter specialities grew by 23.5% and Easter market share grew to 4.7% from 4.0% last year**.
Thorntons Direct sales decreased by 4.6% to £2.2 million with the Consumer Direct business delivering growth at Easter as improvements from the new website began to feed through.
Own Stores like for like sales grew by 0.2% with growth during each of the three key seasons. Total sales were down 4.1% to £26.0 million as a further 9 stores were closed in the quarter, in line with the strategy, resulting in 24 fewer stores than a year ago.
There was good news on the international front, where sales grew by 30.8% to £1.1 million.
Jonathan Hart, Thorntons' Chief Executive, commented, "We are pleased to report a satisfactory period of trading across the third quarter of our financial year. This period includes the important trading seasons of Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Easter where we saw an encouraging sales performance in our main channels. Growing market share further demonstrates the strength of the Thorntons brand and offer. In addition as a result of actions taken over the past two years gross margins were slightly ahead of our expectations. Although we continue to be cautious about the impact of current economic conditions, the Board is now confident that pre-exceptional profit before tax for the full year to June 29 2013 will be substantially ahead of the current market expectation with the potential for further improvement in the final quarter."
* Nielsen: Total Boxed Chocolates & Inlaid Boxed Chocolates 52 weeks to week ending 30th March 2013
** Nielsen: Easter Specialities 14 weeks to week ending 6th April 2013
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