Thorntons has posted a 6.3% rise in total sales to £93.1m in the second quarter powered by both its manufacturing and retail arms.

The chocolatier recorded a 3.5% increase in retail like-for-likes in the 14 weeks to January 11. Total retail sales fell 2.9% to £46.1m as Thorntons had 36 fewer company-owned stores than last year.

The retailer shut seven stores in the quarter and now has 281 shops.

Online sales rose 27% in the quarter, up on last year when the retailer experienced IT issues.

Sales in Thorntons’ FMCG arm surpassed its retail sales as they rose 17.1% to £47m driven, by a 21.1% rise in its commercial arm, which supplies product to a raft of retailers including Tesco and Poundland.

Thorntons international sales fell 15.5% in the quarter but were up 9.2% in the half. Franchise sales fell 3.1% in the quarter.

Thorntons chief executive Jonathan Hart said:  “Our performance over this important period demonstrates continued good progress in the transformation of our business. We are pleased that both our operating divisions delivered positive results with strong sales in our FMCG division and encouraging like-for-like growth in our Retail division.

“Customer response to our new seasonal lines, in particular our Advent calendars and our Snowman licensed range, exceeded our expectations. We also saw good growth in our core boxed chocolate ranges, notably through our refreshed Classics selections.”

He added: “As expected, economic conditions remain challenging for many of our customers and the market overall was very competitive. As such we continue to plan accordingly. These results are further positive evidence of the actions we have taken over the past two and a half years to rebalance our business and revitalise our great brand. We are confident in our plans for the key spring seasons, in particular Easter. Our current outlook for the financial year remains in line with market expectations.”