Thorntons’ transformation from a retail chain to an fmcg supplier continues apace as its total sales rose 5.6% to £26.8m in its fourth quarter.
The chocolatier said today its commercial (fmcg) division was on track to become its largest division by the end of the year, with UK sales up 11.8% to £9.2m in the 10 weeks to 29 June.
Like-for-like sales in Thorntons’ own stores edged up 0.5%, although overall sales declined 3.8% to £13.9m – a drop the company blamed on its planned store closures.
Sales in its franchised stores rose 15% to £1.3m, although turnover for its online Thorntons Direct service fell by £0.1m to £0.8m.
“Our own stores have now delivered positive like-for-like growth across the whole of the second half of this year”
Jonathan Hart, Thorntons
“Despite being our smallest sales quarter we have continued to demonstrate the positive impact of our strategy and the strength of our brand,” said Thorntons CEO Jonathan Hart.
“Our UK commercial sales growth and market share remain strong and our own stores have now delivered positive like-for-like growth across the whole of the second half of this year. We are on track with our store closure programme and have refurbished seven stores to our new format in the period under review.”
In April Thorntons revealed it was selling more chocolate through other retailers than in its own stores for the first time. The shift is part of a strategy to reposition the company as an fmcg supplier and close down unprofitable stores. It closed 13 shops in the fourth quarter, bringing its estate down to 296 stores, along with 186 franchise outlets.
Two weeks ago Thorntons said its profit before tax for the year would be ahead of current market expectations of £4.6m. It announces its full-year results on 11 September.
Analyst Investec reiterated its ‘buy’ recommendation on Thorntons stock on the back of today’s news.