Online arm bolsters sales, with 60% uplift in final quarter

Thorntons pre-tax profits rocketed 36.5 per cent to£7.1 million in its full year to June 30, with positive sales growth recorded across all channels.

The confectionery retailer, which posted a poor first quarter, when like-for-likes sales dropped 3.5 per cent and online sales slumped 5.1 per cent, reversed the decline in the last three quarters to record group sales up by 5.3 per cent to£186 million.

Total store sales climbed 1.7 per cent to£129.2 million for the year. Like-for-like growth was 7.2 per cent in the final quarter.

Sales at its online arm, Thorntons Direct, surged 60.2 per cent in the final quarter to record an overall 22.9 per cent sales growth to£6.8 million for the full year.

Franchise sales were up 1.5 per cent to£13 million and commercial sales shot up 18.5 per cent to£37 million.

Thorntons relaunched its web site during the year and has overhauled most of its portfolio, with 227 stores having been upgraded at a cost of£1.4 million. It plans to open 400 stores in the “medium-term” and will launch a further six before Christmas. At present, it has 368 own-run stores and nearly 600 including franchises.

Thorntons chairman John von Spreckelsen said: "While we are encouraged by our success, we believe that there is further substantial progress to be made. During the year, we have made important changes to the board, including the appointment of our chief executive, Mike Davies. We now have a strong management team in place to take Thorntons into its next development phase.

"The board is pleased with the continuing progress of the company during the opening weeks of the new financial year."