Thorntons sales fell 7.6% to £57.7m in its third quarter despite the Easter holiday falling in the period.

The chocolatier posted sales down 7.6% to £57.7m in the 15 weeks to April 26.

Thorntons said sales were impacted due to the early spring deliveries in its second quarter, slower sales through February and March in its UK commercial channel and the effect of its planned store closures.

But it said its retail and FMCG divisions generated “good sales” from its Easter range.

Its retail division recorded a 6.7% sales fall to £29.2m. Like-for-like sales jumped 1.2% across retail but own store sales fell 8.8% due to 38 store closures against the same period last year. Ten stores closed in the quarter, resulting in Thorntons ending the period with 271 stores.

It added that consumer direct sales increased 5.6% and franchise sales jumped 5.7%.

Sales across the FMCG division fell 8.6% to £28.5m in the quarter. UK commercial sales fell 8%. Thorntons said sales increased 20% across its Easter range. International sales increased 3.4%, accounting for just under 3% of total sales.

Thorntons chief executive Jonathan Hart said: “Set against the continuing backdrop of a competitive and challenging trading environment the key Easter season saw all our channels delivering sales growth.

“Customers responded positively to our Easter innovations and we anticipate further good growth in our Easter market share.

“Despite this third quarter result we are satisfied with the overall performance of the business for the year to date and we look forward to our UK commercial channel returning to growth in our short final quarter.

“The board remains confident that Thorntons will perform in line with market expectations for the full year and we continue to be confident that our transformation is on track and our strategy is appropriate and working.”