Thorntons has reported a 4% increase in third-quarter sales to £60.6m after enjoying strong trading over Easter.

The confectioner said sales through other stores increased by 10% during the 14 weeks to 20 April, while its own store sales dropped 4%.

Like-for-like store sales grew by 0.2%. Thorntons has closed 24 stores over the past year – including nine during the past quarter.

The company said it now expected full-year profits to be “substantially ahead” of market expectations.

“Thorntons is gaining share, trading well, and the transition to an FMCG group with a retail estate is on track,” said Investec analyst Bethany Hocking.

Shares in Thorntons rose 6% to 80.2p in early trading on Wednesday.