Thorntons, the premium chocolate producer and retailer, has posted a 28.5% increase in sales for the first quarter to GBP43.0m (US$87.6m)

The company reported that sales in its own stores had risen by 10.3% to GBP25.4m, on the back of product innovation and store upgrades. Like-for-like sales for the 14-week period to 6 October grew by 9.6% which had been helped by the poor weather in July and early August. Like-for-like sales growth in the last six weeks was 6.2%, the company stated.

Franchise sales rose by 39.0% to GBP3.4m, with the company attributing the strong rise to continued enhancement of its product range. Thorntons also said it had increased its business with a number of retail accounts, boosting commercial sales by 80.8% to GBP13.1m.

Meanwhile, the company's home delivery arm Thorntons Direct "continued to perform well", registering a 46.5% increase in sales to GBP1.1m.

CEO Mike Davies said that discounting the effect of the wet weather and weak comparatives from last year, "the overall sales growth underlines solid improvements made across all sales channels".

Davies added: "We remain focused on extending Thorntons appeal to existing and new customers through a firm commitment to increased product innovation, an enhanced in-store environment and excellent customer service."