Former Nestle and Mars executive Davies had held Thorntons top job since 2006

Former Nestle and Mars executive Davies had held Thorntons top job since 2006

Thorntons, the UK chocolate maker and retailer, said today (25 May) that chief executive Mike Davies is to step down from the role.

Davies' decision to retire after four years at the helm was announced as Thorntons warned that underlying pre-tax profits would be lower than forecast amid "tough trading".

"Mr. Davies has decided that a chief executive with specific retail expertise is required to lead the business," Thorntons said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

The chocolatier said Davies would stay "in place" until a successor had been found; chairman John von Spreckelsen will stay on as executive chairman.

"In the last four years, Mr. Davies led Thorntons' restructuring and significantly improved its manufacturing operations, the product range and the performance of its commercial channel," Thorntons said. "During this period, Thorntons increased its branded market share and grew sales year on year."

However, the company warned that trading at its own stores had been "tough" and that there had been a "temporary decline" in commercial sales in late April and early May.

"Own stores sales have continued to experience like for like sales declines together with higher than anticipated discount costs on clearing excess stocks. Commercial sales were also lower than expected during the end of April and early May but have since recovered to previously forecast levels," Thorntons said.

"The Board has therefore revised its outlook for the remainder of the year and now expects profit before tax and exceptional items and impairment charges to be lower than previously indicated."

Thorntons shares were down 12% in the wake of the announcement, standing at 88p at 17:53 BST.