British chocolatier Thornton’s have announced strong fourth quarter sales increases in its commercial sector as it seeks to rebalance the business.
UK Commercial sales grew by 11.8 per cent to £9.2 million for the retailer in the latest ten week period, which marked an acceleration on the Q3 rate of 10 per cent. The retailer, which has closed 34 stores this year, declared total sales up by 5.6 per cent with the commercial arm up 21.1 per cent and the retail arm down 2.8 per cent.
Neil Saunders, Managing Director of Conlumino, commented: “The results from Thornton’s demonstrate the progress being made towards moving the company away from retail to a commercial footing. Part of the underlying issue for the company is the fact that it uncomfortably straddles the two stools wholesaling and retailing.”
Overall sales in Own Stores declined 3.8 per cent to £13.9m as a result of the store closures during the year, in line with the Company’s strategy.
Thornton’s are showing good progress towards the objective of creating a sustainable retail estate of 180-200 stores. The period saw positive like-for-like sales in Own Stores, a trend also reflected in the Franchise channel.
Mr Saunders also said that the international commercial arm and private label business success will see the most encouraging future prospects for the firm.
He added: “The bottom line is that the firm has found the commercial route a more efficient and effective way of distributing its products and brands. The priority now is to ensure that the right balance between the two sides of the business is found; this, in our view, inevitably means more retail closures in the years ahead.”