The chocolatier suffered a 39 per cent fall in interim profits to £7.3m on sales up 1.3 per cent to £128.4m, but trends have improved in the second half.

A combination of lower than usual footfall and a fiercely promotional high street dented first-half performance, when like-for-likes at company-owned stores suffered, although other channels – such as franchise and direct – increased sales.

But chief executive Mike Davies said that sales had been positive since Christmas, with the exception of “the snow week”, and he was confident about the future.

He said opportunities include “a three-week longer selling season due to a late Easter, increased selling opportunities following the closure of Woolworths and improved productivity versus last year, when we incurred higher costs due to the early Easter”.