Sweetie fiends like the chocs, but less so from its own stores
There are few sweet memories of Christmas for high street chocolatier Thorntons. Sales fell across the 377-store chain by 0.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis, over the four weeks to the start of the holiday. Thorntons stores' like-for-like-sales for the 28 weeks to January 28 were up 0.8 per cent.

The retailer's franchise operation also experienced a first-half decline of 4.1 per cent on a like-for-like basis, although total sales rose 9.3 per cent to£8.6 million during the period compared with the previous year. Thorntons' direct sales also fell, by 2.1 per cent to£3.2 million.

The only encouraging sign from the retailer during the period was that its total company sales rose 9.5 per cent to£119.7 million.

Thorntons chairman Christopher Burnett said: 'Christmas trade at our own shops began slowly compared with last year, but picked up strongly in the final few days. Significant growth in the sale of Thorntons products at other retailers was anticipated by management and factored into plans. Based on our expected interim results, and barring any unforeseen circumstances, we would anticipate the results for the full year to be in line with management expectations.'