Chocolatier and retailer Thorntons has today posted further disappointing stores sales in a fourth quarter trading update.
Own store sales were down 11.9 per cent and total retail trade declined 11.6 per cent year-on-year for the eight weeks to June 26th 2011, further vindicating its decision to downsize its property portfolio.
Last month the company confirmed that it planned to close half of its stores over the next three to five years and concentrate its operations through its franchise and commercial channels.
Thorntons total commercial sales grew 25.9 per cent for the full-year period, as its branded products continued to prove popular with consumers.
Jonathan Hart, Thorntons CEO, commented: “We see the weakness in High Street footfall and spending continuing in the new financial year. As a business we are now focusing on the implementation of our transformation plan.
“Thorntons is a strong brand with excellent potential and I am confident that this strategy of rebalancing the business across all channels will deliver results.
Although disappointing, today’s result are in-line with expectations, and the group expects profit before tax, impairments and onerous leases charges to be similar to market predictions.
Total company sales for the year grew 2.2 per cent compared to 2010, despite like-for-like store sales falling 7.9 per cent.
“This eight week period represents less than 10 per cent of our annual sales,” Hart added.
“As highlighted at the strategic review at the end of June, trading during this period has continued to be challenging, particularly in our own stores and franchises.
“Whilst commercial sales have only grown slightly they increased by an impressive 25.9 per cent over the full year. We are encouraged by our forward orders for Christmas 2011.”