Thorntons has announced a hike in pre-tax profits of nearly 20% in its 2007-08 financial results.

The confectioner saw pre-tax profits increase by 19.6% over the last 12 months to reach £8.5m. Sales, meanwhile, improved by just under 12% to reach a new high of £208.1m. In 2007 the chocolate retailer notched up sales of £186m.

“We are pleased to be able to report continuing good sales growth,” said Thorntons chief executive Mike Davies. “Underpinning this growth is the strategy we have been implementing to return Thorntons to sustainable, long-term profitability by investing in the brand, developing innovative products, modernising the in-store environment as well as attracting and retaining the best people.”

Davies added: “Our success in all four channels is encouraging and will continue to provide us with a solid platform from which to present our evolving range of quality products to new and loyal customers.”

The results came after Thorntons last month launched a new ‘foodie’ concept store in Kingston-upon-Thames designed to modernise the group’s image, with a number of additional trial stores set to open in the coming months.

Earlier this month the confectioner installed Keith Hurdman as its new master chocolatier, 10 months after the dismissal of Barry Colenso for stamping on chocolates at rival retailer Hotel Chocolat.