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Online sales and profits on the up at Thorntons

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Thorntons today announced fast ecommerce growth and signalled its biggest investment in manufacturing for a quarter of a century as it posted near-50% growth in profits.

Online sales at the chocolate maker and retailer grew by 23.4% in the first half of its financial year, to £4.1m, from £3.3m at the same time last year.

Overall, revenues rose by 4.5% to £139.7m in the half-year to January 11, while profit before tax before exceptional items was up by 47.3% to £7.2m up from £4.9m last time. Retail division sales grew by 2.2%, like-for-like, contrasting with a 2.2% fall in like-for-like sales last year, but overall retail sales fell by 4% to £69.1m as the company continued to close its stores.

Today’s results come after Thorntons has set about a strategy of reducing store numbers while selling more of its products through a multichannel strategy that includes supermarkets, stores, online in the UK and international sales overseas. It aims to have between 180 and 200 stores in the medium-term, with 40 closing in the current financial year.

The company said its ecommerce results reflected “our customers’ appetite for buying higher-priced personalised gifts from Thorntons: hampers in particular.” It also said investment in its web platform and supply chain had paid off.

Jonathan Hart, chief executive of Thorntons, said: “We are pleased to report further increases in both revenues and profits as we continue on our journey of transforming Thorntons towards an international FMCG business and UK multichannel retailer. Across our two divisions, all of our core channels have delivered positive results.”

The company is now to increase its manufacturing capacity by two lines over coming years in what it terms its biggest investment in manufacturing facilities for 25 years. The expansion will see it make more Easter eggs and chocolate models.

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