A hot seven days over Easter saw own store sales for chocolate retailer Thorntons fall 22.8 per cent like-for-like (LFL) compared to the same period last year.
In a trading statement for its third quarter period, published today, the chocolatier has reported a 13.9 per cent LFL sales decline in own stores and a total sales drop of 0.7 per cent year-on-year to £64.2 million.
Thorntons admitted in February that it was reassessing its store portfolio and with profits now expected to be lower than when that announcement was made, the firm will be under greater pressure to focus more on its wholesale operations.
Jonathan Hart joined Thorntons as CEO in January and will have the task of undertaking a full strategic review of company.
Hart commented today: “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.”
Franchise sales decreased by 21.4 per cent during the 16 weeks up to and including April 30th 2011, and Thorntons Direct trading decreased by 7.9 per cent as increasing online sales were offset by poor performance by its corporate segment.
Profit-before-tax for its full-year period was previously predicted to total a similar amount to last year, £6.1 million, but is now expected to only reach between £3 million and £4.5 million.
Around 98 per cent of the company’s commercial sales, which grew by 25.1 per cent during the period, are currently of Thorntons own products however showing the continuing strength of the brand.
Hart added: “The process of my strategic review is well under way and I look forward to presenting my conclusions in due course.”