UK luxury chocolate retailer Thorntons has said that its first-half profit would be towards the lower end of its expectations following disappointing Christmas sales.

The company said like-for-like sales slid 0.9% in the seven weeks to 28 December, while in the half year to 11 January like-for-like sales were up 1.6%.

Total company sales in the 28 weeks to 11 January increased 2.3% to £104.7m (US$168.2m).

CEO Peter Burdon said “Christmas was tough against a strong performance last year, but I am pleased we improved our margin levels. Interim profits, whilst within the range of our expectations, are likely to be towards the lower end of that range. Consequently we are a little more cautious about the company prospects for the full year but remain optimistic ahead of the important Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter trading periods.”