Chocolatier Thorntons delivered a sales surge as shoppers gorged on Easter Eggs and celebratory confectionery. Profits will beat expectations.

Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day fell within the third quarter as well as Easter, and total sales climbed by 4% to £60.6m in the 14 weeks to April 20.

Thorntons chief executive Jonathan Hart said he was confident that full-year profits would beat market expectations and there is “potential for further improvement in the final quarter”.

The retailer increased its Easter market share of sales through its commercial channel to 4.7% from 4% last year as revenues from Easter goodies leaped by 23.5%.

Like-for-likes at company-owned stores edged up 0.2%, while total sales declined 4.1% to £26m as planned shop closures continued. Year on year, company store numbers were down by 24 to 309.

Sales through third-party retailers - the commercial channel - advanced 10% to £27.4m, while franchise sales fell by £0.6m to £2.2m. Direct sales were down 4.6% to £2.2m, but the retailer said there was growth over Easter as improvements to its website took effect.

Hart said: “Growing market share further demonstrates the strength of the Thorntons brand and offer. In addition, as a result of actions taken over the past two years gross margins were slightly ahead of our expectations.”