Thorntons sweet on multiple deals

Confectionery retailer Thorntons plans tie-ups with big retailers such as Sainsbury's, Asda and Boots, following the success of a deal with Tesco.

The confectioner is close to finalising trading terms with the supermarket and health and beauty groups to sell its ranges.

Thorntons chief executive Peter Burdon said: 'We have got a very positive response and are discussing trade terms. It won't be long before every major retailer of confectionery will have Thorntons on its shelves.'

The deal with Tesco has helped commercial sales grow for the first time in four years - up 7.4 per cent to£9.8 million.

Burdon also said that Thornton's will not increase the number of company-owned stores in the UK - 390 at present - but there is potential for another 40 franchised outlets, taking the number to 230.

Thorntons is also opening three new-style cafes in Sunderland, Doncaster and Chatham, following the success of the recent refits of stores at Bury St Edmunds and Oxford.

Burdon believes that there is potential for between 50 and 100 of the cafes.

The retailer announced a 10.1 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to£10.9 million for the six months to January 11. Sales climbed 2.3 per cent to£104.7 million. Like-for-like sales rose 3.6 per cent.