Confectioner Thorntons expects the trend for shoppers to focus on quality rather than quantity to help it ride out the economic storm and revealed gloom-busting preliminary results.

Pre-tax profits jumped 19.6 per cent to£8.5 million on sales up 11.9 per cent to£208.1 million.

Chief executive Mike Davies said: “Shoppers are being more selective and everything they spend matters. If we can combine the trend for quality over quantity with innovation, we will continue to grow.”

Thorntons’ company-owned shops recorded like-for-like growth in every quarter, generating sales of£135.1 million. Its franchise stores arm posted sales up 14.5 per cent to£14.9 million.

The commercial business’s sales rose 33.8 per cent to£49.5 million and Thorntons Direct sales climbed 26.6 per cent to£8.6 million.

Davies warned that chocolate prices showed “huge volatility” and that the retailer has improved productivity and increased prices to cope with the impact. While he could not guarantee prices would not rise again, he said the retailer was well placed for any further impact.