Chocolatier Thorntons’ like-for-likes fell 1.7% and total sales dropped 1% to £46m for the 14 weeks to October 6, as a result of store closures last year.

Sales across its stores slumped 7% to £21.7m, which the retailer blamed on the 36 store closures. Thorntons said trading was in line with expectations.

Thorntons Direct sales declined £100,000 to £1.1m. The retailer had scheduled a website launch for the end of September.

Meanwhile, commercial sales surged 9.8% to £21.2m.

Thorntons chief executive Jonathan Hart said it remained cautious about Christmas. He is enacting a strategy to slim down the retailer’s own store estate, make commercial sales to other retailers Thorntons’ biggest sales channel and improve its multichannel credentials.

He said: “We continue to have confidence in our strategy to rebalance our business, revitalise our brand and restore profitability and are making good progress in its implemention. In our retail business our plans are stronger than last year, with innovative new products and dynamic promotions, and in the commercial channel we remain encouraged by our strong order book.

“We continue to focus on improving profitability and are pleased that the margin improvements seen earlier in 2012 are continuing to flow through.”

The commercial order book for Christmas trading is “strong” and in line with previous expectations.