A quiet high street sees sales melt at Thorntons

Chocolate maker Thorntons said quarterly sales slumped almost 12 per cent due to supermarket demand and a quieter period for its high street stores.

The Derbyshire-based firm said revenues through commercial channels such as supermarkets fell 12.8 per cent to £20.8m in the 14 weeks to October 4, causing group sales to tumble 11.9 per cent to £41.4m.

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It warned last month that as it now sold more products through its commercial channel the timing of orders would cause greater trading fluctuations. Total revenues in its retail unit fell 10.9 per cent to £20.6m, as it closed 12 stores and relocated another. Like-for-like sales at its retail division slipped 3.7 per cent, reflecting continued subdued consumer sentiment and a weakness in footfall seen since Easter.

Shares at the group, which runs 249 stores, fell almost 6 per cent.

However, the firm said it expects UK orders to grow over the current quarter and lead to larger second half sales, albeit at a more modest level due to strong comparatives a year ago.