Shares in Thorntons fell this morning (8 September) after the UK chocolate maker and retailer posted a drop in annual profits.

Thorntons said annual pre-tax profits were down 2.4% to GBP6.1m (US$9.4m) during the 52 weeks to 26 June. Revenues remained flat at GBP214.6m.

However, the company, which had seen sales drop by more than 4% during the fourth quarter of its fiscal year and in July announced plans to cut 35 jobs, said underlying pre-tax profits rose 14.2% to GBP7.5m.

The underlying measure excludes one-off charges booked in Thorntons’ 2008/09 and 2009/10 fiscal years, including redundancy and impairment costs.

Thorntons executive chairman John von Spreckelsen said the company had enjoyed “strong” sales in its commercial and Thorntons Direct channels. However, he admitted “the key challenge” for the business was improving sales at its own stores, which fell 3.6% during the year.

“We have strengthened our senior retail management team and we believe that this, together with extensive product innovation and changes to the promotional and marketing programmes, should have a positive impact on trading in the lead up to Christmas,” von Spreckelsen said.

Shares in Thorntons were down 5.9% at 80p at 09:49 BST.

Click here for the full statement from Thorntons.