Thorntons like-for-like sales in its fourth quarter fell by 1.6 per cent but rose by 1.5 per cent in the second half.

For the 10 weeks ending June 27, overall sales fell by 2.7 per cent to £27.9m, but in the second half increased by 6.6 per cent to £86.4m. It said the hot weather in June adversely affected sales compared with last year’s cold and wet weather.

Own store sales declined by 0.9 per cent in the quarter to £18.5m, but increased by 2.2 per cent in the second half to £53.8m.

Franchise sales for the quarter declined by 25.3 per cent to £1.4m, impacted by the collapse of greeting card chain Birthdays, which operated 94 franchises.

Thorntons chief executive Mike Davies said: “I am pleased to report good overall growth for the year with the second half showing significant improvement over the same period last year. This result has been achieved despite experiencing some decline in the fourth quarter, historically our smallest, representing only 13 per cent of annual sales.”

Davies said the retailer is in discussions with Clinton Cards and other potential franchisees to replace lost sales in locations where Birthdays stores have closed. He said the board expects that profit before tax and before the anticipated pension scheme credit for the full year ended June 2009 will be marginally ahead of the current market consensus of £5.4m.

Sales at Thorntons Direct fell by 30.8 per cent to £0.8m in the quarter reflected by a continued weakness in sales to corporate customers. Sales in the second half fell by 15.4 per cent. Sales to customers from the call centre and the website decreased by 3.1 per cent in the period, but increased by 9.5 per cent in the second half.