Thorntons has booked a drop in third-quarter sales as store closures and a difficult trading environment dented the chocolate group's result.

Total sales in the three months to 28 April fell 2.7% to GBP62.4m (US$101m), the group revealed today (3 May).

During the period, Thorntons closed 11 of its company-owned shops as part of its store-closure programme.

The company sells chocolate through its own retail outlets, franchised branded shops and supermarkets. It announced last June that it plans to close 180 outlets over the next three years in order to increase its focus on selling chocolate products through the retail multiples.

Excluding store closures, Thorntons said sales were broadly flat. The group witnessed a 1.6% drop in like-for-like sales at its own stores, while franchise stores sale sales gain 12.6%,

Despite a "good" Easter, CEO Jonathan Hart said that the "difficult consumer environment continues".

"We continue to focus on restoring profitability and we are seeing early signs of progress resulting in an overall satisfactory trading performance," he commented. 

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