UK luxury chocolate and confectionery manufacturer and retailer Thorntons has reported a 9.5% increase in turnover to £119.7m (US$228.8m) for the first half.

The company said that for the 28 weeks to 8 January profit before tax rose to £13.3m from £12.1m a year earlier. Thorntons decreased its net debt to £14.4m from £20.9m a year earlier.

“The results represent further good progress despite the difficult Christmas trading period.  Most of the sales growth came from the sale of Thorntons branded products through other retailers where we have been establishing a presence in the past two years,” said executive chairman Christopher Burnett.

It is now almost two years since the group began to sell Thorntons branded products through other retailers. In that time sales have grown rapidly and for the full year will be in the region of £20m. Commercial sales were up £9.8m to £13.4m for the first half. Own shop like-for-like sales rose 0.8%.

“The retail environment remains both competitive and challenging and the second six months’ performance, as usual, will depend on the sales achieved over Easter, but, subject to a satisfactory performance during that period, we remain confident that the results for the full year will meet market expectations,” Thorntons said.

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