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Thorntons reports falling sales despite online growth

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Thorntons today reported an 6.4% drop in sales over the Christmas period. Online proved one of the few bright spots in its second quarter, with direct sales up by 13%, compared to the same period last year.

However, the combination of an 10.3% drop in sales in its fast-moving consumer goods division to £41.9m, and a 2.4% drop in retail sales to £44.9m combined to pull total company sales 6.4% down to £86.8m in the 14 weeks to January 10.

Like-for-like retail sales, which stripped out the effect of four store closures, were up by 5% in the second quarter.

Jonathan Hart, Thorntons’ chief executive, said: “The retail division experienced strong like-for-like sales growth in the quarter with an outstanding Christmas season which highlights our shoppers’ appreciation of our brand, product offering and in-store experience. Demand for our boxed chocolates, seasonal specialities and advent calendars was particularly high.

“Alongside very positive results from our retail division for the second year running, we were disappointed that the continued growth we anticipated in the UK commercial channel of our FMCG division had not been delivered. The challenges we experienced within specific grocers accounted for the majority of the share decline.

“Good growth in many of our grocery, convenience and high street accounts and a strong performance from our retail division gives us confidence in shopper demand for our brand and products. We continue with our transformation towards an FMCG business and the investment in our people, systems and factory is ongoing. We have good plans for the spring seasons and the board remains confident in its multi-channel strategy and ongoing transformation.”

The figures came after a quarter in which Thorntons warned revenues had been hit at supermarkets ordered less, and later, while its new centralised warehouse saw short-term difficulties.

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