Thorntons has reported a 0.7% drop in sales in its interim results but a 24.6% increase in pre-tax profit.

The chocolatier reported sales of £127.4m and pre-tax profit of £9.1m in the 28 weeks to January 9.

Chief executive Mike Davies said: “I am pleased to be able to report a significantly improved profit performance for the first six months which was assisted by our decision to avoid heavy discounting of prices in our retail outlets. Although the sales volume recorded from our shops suffered a slight decline, sales of Thorntons’ branded products across all channels, excluding private label products, increased by 5.5 percent.”

The improved profitability was mainly due to reduced levels of discounting.

In its retail division, sales declined by £1.9m to £78.8m. Like for like sales were down 2.4%. The fall came in the second quarter when the retailer took the decision to protect profit margins in the lead up to Christmas.

The retailer lost 94 shops when Birthdays went into administration, and has since re-opened 70 – of which 37 were former Birthdays stores. It now has 222 franchise stores and plans to open a further 26.

Davies added: “We are in the process of adding several products to our offering and have just launched the new Easter range in our stores. Going forward we will continue to focus on reducing our dependency on Christmas by investing in products that drive sales in the traditionally quieter summer months. We therefore expect to be able to continue to improve our performance in the second half, which is historically loss-making.”