Thorntons has reported like-for-like sales are down 6% in its fourth quarter, which it said in part is due to higher than anticipated discounting of excess stock which it has now cleared.

Since the period end, the retailer has continued to implement cost control measures and announced a staff restructuring programme leading to a reduction of some 35 head office staff over the next three months.

For the 10 weeks to June 26, the chocolate specialist said trading is in line with management expectations. It reported own store sales fell by 6.2% to £17.5m.

Sales of Thorntons branded products excluding private label fell in the quarter by 1.1%. Overall sales fell 4.1% to £26.8m.

Following the decision to exit low margin private label sales at the end of the last financial year, sales declined by 74.2% to £0.3m.

Franchise sales increased by 20.2% to £1.6m, as the prior year comparator was impacted by the administration of Birthdays.

Thorntons Direct grew by 17.1% to £0.9m, with strong sales to corporate customers in the second half.

The retailer is still seeking a chief executive to replace Mike Davies who stepped down in May following a profit warning.