Chocolatier Thorntons has reported a 4.1% fall in like-for-like sales at its own stores over the first quarter of the year.

Overall sales at Thorntons rose by 7.4% to £50.3m for the 14 weeks ending October 2, boosted by a strong performance by the commercial sales division, up 29.3% to £20.2m.

Sales of Thorntons-branded products were up 35.8% to £19.8m.

But at its own stores, sales fell 4.3% to £26m. Last month, Thorntons revealed plans to localise in-store ranges, meaning that stores in locations such as Oxford Street, would give more prominence to premium ranges, while value products would be pushed in other stores where appropriate.

Franchise stores also reported a decline in sales, of 4.8% to £2.8m. Thorntons blamed this on planned later deliveries of Christmas stock compared with last year.

Thorntons executive chairman John von Spreckelsen said: “Our challenge and key focus area for the board remains the performance in own stores, where sales declined in line with management expectations. We are continuing to implement a number of new initiatives to drive sales and have recently launched a strong Christmas seasonal range.”

The retailer is yet to recruit a new chief executive after Mike Davies announced in May that he was stepping down.