Chocolates specialist Thorntons has issued a profits warning after the crucial Easter trading period failed to live up to its hopes.

Thorntons cut its full-year profit expectation to about £7.5m compared to about £9m previously expected by the City.

The retailer posted a 3.1% rise in group sales to £60.3m during its third quarter to April 17. However own-store sales slid 4.9% to £33.5m and like-for-likes fell 4.6%.

The fall was partly a result of a switch of revenue away from Thorntons’ own shops and franchise stores into other channels, particularly sales of the retailer’s product through retailers such as supermarkets – categories as commercial sales by Thorntons and up 33.9% to £20.8m. Direct sales rose 32.4% to £2.5m.

Execution Noble analyst Sanjay Vidyarthi said: “The reality is that if Thorntons did not sell through the supermarkets it would be unlikely to pick up these sales in stores – the structural shift from the high street continues and this is a trend that is exacerbated when times are tougher.”