Chocolatier Thorntons pre-tax profit jumped from £4.9m to £7.2m in its first half as its FMCG division outgrew retail sales.

Sales rose 4.5% to £139.7m over the half to January 11. FMCG sales grow by 14.5% to £70.6m while retail like-for-likes edged up 2.1%.

Within retail, it had a “strong” half in its own stores and “good growth” from online, which leaped 23.4% to £4.1m. The retailer will close 40 stores over the financial year with 15 shuttered in the first half. The retailer is aiming to create a 180 to 200 store business.

Franchise sales edged up £100,000 to £5.1m over the period.

UK commercial sales grew by 17.3% to £62.4m as it broadened its distribution. Its Christmas specialities soared 68% over the period and it has experienced a “good take up” of early Spring deliveries.

Thorntons said as a result of growing production volumes it is investing in increasing its manufacturing capacity.

Thorntons chief executive Jonathan Hart said: “We are pleased to report further increases in both revenues and profits as we continue on our journey of transforming Thorntons towards an international FMCG business and UK multichannel retailer.  

“Overall we continue to be encouraged with the progress which has been made in implementing our strategy of rebalancing the business, revitalising the brand and restoring profitability and we look forward to the key spring seasons of Mother’s Day and Easter with confidence.

Going forward our focus remains firmly on continuing our current strategy and maintaining the positive trajectory that we have established over the past two years. As expected, the marketplace remains highly competitive and our consumers continue to seek value; our plans have been made accordingly. Our current outlook for the financial year remains in line with market expectations.”