Thorntons has revealed like-for-like growth of 3.3 per cent in the 14 week period to April 18 as it benefited from a longer selling season ahead of Easter than last year.

The chocolatier revealed overall sales have grown since Christmas by 11.7 per cent to £58.6m. Own store sales grew by 3.9 per cent to £35.3m.

Thorntons chief executive Mike Davies said: “Our cost reduction initiatives announced at the time of the interim results combined with our combined with our continued focus on product innovation and customer service are showing results. The board now expects that profit before tax and before the anticipated pension scheme credit of £1.8m for the year ending June 2009 will be not less than £5m.”

Franchise sales grew by 12.3 per cent to £4m, which Thorntons said benefitted from additional distribution and the annualised effect of new store openings. Commercial sales grew 35.3 per cent to £17.3m.

Thorntons Direct reported a dip of 6.8 per cent to £2m as a result of continued weakness in sales to corporate customers. However, sales from its website continued to grow at 21.7 per cent.