UK confectioner and retailer Thorntons posted a 19.6% rise in annual profits this morning (10 September).

The chocolate maker reported pre-tax net profit of GBP8.5m (US$14.97m) on revenues that were up 11% to GBP208.1m.

The company said that store and brand modernisation programmes and new product development drove gains.

"Underpinning this growth is the strategy we have been implementing to return Thorntons to sustainable, long-term profitability by investing in the brand, developing innovative products, modernising the in-store environment as well as attracting and retaining the best people," chief executive Mike Davies said.

The group's own stores delivered 4.6% growth, while franchises saw sales grow 14.5%. The commercial business grew by over a third and its direct business, which includes consumer, online and corporate businesses delivered 26.6% growth.