Thorntons’ own store sales like-for-likes fell 12.6% in its third quarter and the chocolatier warned on profits.

For the 16 weeks to April 30, group sales since January were down by 0.7%, and it said the hot weather over Easter significantly impacted its own stores, franchise and Direct channels.

The board now expects pre-tax profit for the year to June 25 to range between £3m and £4.5m. It previously said profits would be roughly in line with last year, at £6.1m.

Own store sales fell 13.9% to £31.4m. It said it experienced growth in its commercial channel, where sales were up 25.1%, and market share at Easter seasonal lines were anticipated to have grown year on year.

The Easter trading period equates to nearly 33% of its third quarter sales in own stores, and the hot weather contributed to a like-for-like sales decline of 22.8% in comparison to the same week last year.

Franchise sales also fell by 21.4% to £2.7m over the period. Direct sales fell 7.9% to £2.4m.

Total sales for the year to date increased by 2.9% compared to the same period last year.

Jonathan Hart, Thorntons chief executive, said: “The past quarter has been extremely challenging particularly in our own stores and for franchisees and we foresee the prospect of this weakness in high street footfall and spending continuing.

“We have taken a number of actions including adjusting our trading strategy and aggressively managing our overhead costs, as well as ensuring that our production is geared to likely demand. 

“Additionally we took steps to ensure that our ice cream was available in more stores than last year ahead of the Easter trading period. However, these significant additional sales were insufficient to offset the impact of the weather on those of our core chocolate items. The process of my strategic review is well under way and I look forward to presenting my conclusions in due course.”