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Thorntons' sales melt in hot weather

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Chocolatier Thorntons today said hot weather over Easter had melted away its sales both online and in-store.

Easter accounts for nearly a third of sales during the third quarter of Thorntons’ financial year, but in a trading statement published today the company said the hot weather in this year’s Easter week had contributed to a fall in like-for-like sales of 22.8%.

Total sales in the three months to the end of April were down by 0.7% compared to the same time last year at £64.2m, with the biggest falls seen in stores – 21.4% at £2.7m down for franchises and 13.9% down to £31.4m for Thorntons’ own stores.

Online, sales through Thorntons Direct fell by 7.9% to £2.4m compared to last time. While sales to consumers over the internet rose, online corporate sales were down on the year before.

Better news came in the commercial sales area, where growth of 25.1% was reported.

For the year to date, the picture was rosier, with a 2.9% rise in total sales. But the company warned that profits for the full year area were expected to come in at between £3m and £4.5m, down from £6.1m in 2010.

Jonathan Hart, chief executive of Thorntons, 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.”

He said the company had adjusted its trading strategy and was also managing costs while gearing production to likely demand. “Additionally,” he said, “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.”

He said the conclusions of his strategic review of the business would be presented “in due course”

By 10.11am this morning shares were down 10%, or 8.75p, on the news, at 71.5p.

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