Thorntons has reported strong festive sales, driven by robust performances at all its divisions.

Group sales rose 7.6 per cent in the 14 weeks to January 12. Own-store sales climbed 2.4 per cent to£56.7 million and 1.2 per cent on a like-for-like basis. Thorntons opened eight stores during the period.

Thornton’s franchise sales surged 10 per cent to£6.2 million, driven by the addition of 31 franchises in the quarter, leading to a net increase of 34 franchises in the first half of the year.

Commercial sales soared 24.9 per cent to£16.6 million as the retailer improved distribution to existing customers, added new customers and launched further products.

Sales at Thorntons Direct, its online division, jumped 20.5 per cent to£4.1 million.

Thorntons chief executive Mike Davies said: “The improvements in our customer offer underpin the continued progress that we have achieved across all sales channels. We will continue to focus on product innovation, store improvements and customer service. While the outlook for the retail sector is challenging, the company remains on course to meet market expectations.”