While Thorntons was this morning counting the cost of its store closure plan, another high street fixture has been reaping the benefits of its expansionist tendencies – and recession-friendly positioning.

Costa Coffee has defied the consumer gloom by posting a very healthy rise in like-for-like sales across its domestic estate of almost 1,300. Its increased range of iced drinks and the Costa Light coffee made with skimmed milk were cited as drivers of the strong performance.

“The UK’s coffee culture keeps growing,” Chris Rogers, finance director at Costa’s parent company, Whitbread. “The value sector is the right one to be in. It remains an affordable treat.”

It’s a different story for Thorntons, which blamed a loss for the past year on one-off costs arising from its ongoing restructuring.

The booming sales in its commercial channel show there remains a way forward for the newly focused company. But another strategic misstep – at what Investec analysts today identified as a decisive moment for future of the business –  is one luxury the chocolatier cannot afford.

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