Investment takes toll on results
Confectioner Thorntons revealed sales were flat at£111.2 million for the 28 weeks to January 6, but profits declined because of significant investment and other one-off costs.

Pre-tax profit was£10.5 million, compared with£12.8 million in 2006, and underlying profitability was in line with last year. However, the company expects full-year profits to be in line with expectations at about£6 million.

The retailer said that investment in own-store, commercial and online sales channels was progressing well. The group's strategic focus is to enhance the Thorntons brand in all sales channels, to create sustainable profit growth.

Thorntons chairman John Von Spreckelsen said: 'We are making steady progress as we continue to implement the group's strategy. Whereas profit has declined due to one-off items and increased investment, the latter has resulted in the modernisation and refits of 178 stores, the enhancement of our online sales channel and other trading opportunities.

'This, together with other sales and cost initiatives, has positioned us well to benefit from an improved second-half performance, where own-store like-for-like sales are showing good progress.'

The retailer said it remains focused on seasonal ranges and will further enhance the Christmas, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Easter offerings with improved products and packaging designs.