• Own-store sales fall almost 6%. Turnover up 4.8%
  • Pre-tax profits drop 8.5%
  • Thorntons plans to review store portfolio
Thorntons to review store portfolio

Thorntons to review store portfolio

UK chocolatier Thorntons revealed plans to review its store portfolio as it recorded declining sales in its own stores today (16 February).

Thorntons chairman John von Spreckelsen said a number of its store leases are approaching renewal, providing it with the "opportunity to change the size and shape of the own-store portfolio."

The retailer is working to improve sales in its retail stores, where sales fell 5.9% during the six months to 8 January to GBP74.1m (US$119.6m). Like-for-like sales fell 5.2%. Group sales were up 4.8% to GBP133.5m.

Thorntons is looking to improve own-store sales through targeted promotions, as well as through product innovation, particularly on seasonal lines.

The announcement came as the company recorded a 4.9% decrease in net profit to GBP5.9m during the first half of its fiscal year. Profit before tax fell 8.5% to GBP8.3m.

Despite the weakness in its own stores, Thorntons recorded gains in its commercial and Thorntons Direct channels. Commercial sales were up 30.6% to GBP45.2m, thanks to distribution gains in new stores and successful seasonal lines.

Thorntons Direct recorded 8.5% sales growth to GBP6.4m, with the company emphasising that it achieved the growth in spite of the weather, which restricted pre-Christmas deliveries to certain parts of the country.

The chocolate maker provided a bleak outlook for the remainder of 2011, describing the UK retail environment as "challenging" and is "likely to remain so for the balance of 2011 with consumers facing difficult and uncertain times".

Additionally, it said that trading across is retail estate has been "weaker than we anticipated" with the board saying it is cautious about trading for the remainder of the year, including Mother's Day and Easter.

It is forecasting profit before tax and exceptionals for the current financial year to be around the level reported last year, but added that this is before any additional redundancy, impairment or "onerous" lease charges that may be incurred in the second half of the year.

Thorntons shares fell 6.1% to 93p at 10:28 GMT.