Thorntons has reported a disappointing quarter of trading offset by some strong Easter sales.
The confectioner saw a 7.6% drop in company sales for the third quarter ending 26 April.
Sales outside its own stores, which have been growing strongly in recent quarters, fell by 8%.
In response, Thorntons shares crashed 18.5% to 115.87p in early trading on Wednesday.
Thorntons blamed the slump on early spring sales that fell in the prior quarter combined with slower sales in February and March and weaker than expected performance at Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
However, it said commercial sales of Easter specialities grew by more than 20%.
In its own-stores, like-for-like sales increased 1.2% over the quarter while total sales fell 8.8% as a result of 38 store closures in the past year.
Despite the drop in total sales, Thorntons said it remained confident the company would perform in line with market expectations for the full year.
“We are satisfied with the overall performance of the business for the year to date and we look forward to our UK Commercial channel returning to growth in our short final quarter,” said Thorntons CEO Jonathan Hart.
“We continue to be confident that our transformation is on track and our strategy is appropriate and working.”