Thorntons is battling with sliding profits as today’s results reveal but the company is ploughing more money into its retail arm this year and its management is confident this will sweeten its sales in the long run.

Sales in own stores fell 3.6% to £129.8m in the 52 weeks to 26 June but in an exclusive interview with The Grocer, executive chairman John von Spreckelsen and acting chief executive Mark Robson outlined a string of new initiatives they believe will reverse the trend in the run up to Christmas.

“We are very much focusing on improving the trading in our own store estate. Over the past six to nine months we have done extensive revamps and refreshing of our product ranges in own stores”, said Robson, adding that the company intends to commit a further £4.5m to the retail estate over the next 12 months – three times that spent last year. The extra capital will be spent on refits and new fixtures in 30 of Thorntons’ stores, he added.

It is not just Thorntons’ stores that are getting the once over, according to the company. Its Continental range will get a new look next month and the company is upping its game on promotions, directly mailing a whopping 8m households in the vicinity of stores with the hope of drawing in customers with money off and bounce back vouchers.

Meanwhile, the company is pushing ahead “selectively” with its overseas drive. Last year, it announced a three-year financing deal to spearhead an overseas push. See this week’s issue for an update on how it plans to boost its presence internationally later this year.