Thorntons has reported an uplift in total revenue in the second quarter despite a slump in company-owned sales as the chocolatier continues to close stores.
Total sales for the 14 weeks to January 12 increased 5.4% to £88m.
Like-for-like sales at company-owned stores declined by 1.3%. Its store closure programme was the major contributor to its 9% total sales fall. It has 27 fewer stores than it did a year ago.
However, commercial sales through other retailers soared 26.4% to £34.7m. Franchise sales declined by £1.1m to £3m largely as a result of the closure of some Clintons stores following its administration last May.
Thorntons said the delay in launching its revamped website as well as “operational issues” late last year had a “significant impact on sales” over Christmas as online revenue decreased by £700,000 to £4.8m.
Private label sales substantially increased to £2.5m.
International sales surged 69% to £2.1m as it ramp up overseas supply including to South African grocer Massmart.
First half sales to January 12 for the company rose 3.1% with commercial sales up 25.3% while own store like-for-likes fell 1.5%.
Thorntons’ share of the total boxed chocolate market increased from 11.7% to 12.1% and its share of the in-laid boxed chocolate market increased from 33.5% to 35%.
Thorntons chief executive Jonathan Hart said: “We are pleased with the overall progress made during this key trading period. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of our multichannel distribution model and our strategy to rebalance our routes to market and revitalise the business as a whole. We have grown market share and demonstrated the continued strength of the Thorntons brand despite a challenging economy and a weak confectionery market.
“We enter the second half of our financial year with profits in line with our expectations and ahead of last year. Our seasonal lines have sold through well, resulting in stock levels lower than anticipated and below last year at the period end. Our important spring seasons, in particular Easter, lie ahead of us and will be key to the outcome of the full year.”
He added: “We have strong trading plans for spring and an encouraging commercial order book. We are confident in our strategy and the actions we are taking but remain cautious given the continuing challenge of the economic climate.”
Investec analyst Bethany Hocking said: “This was a good Christmas for Thorntons, and the continued outperformance of commercial, together with some encouraging signs in private label and international, are evidence that the strategy is working, in our view.”