Thorntons has signed a surprise new deal with Coca-Cola to start selling Coke Zero, Dr Pepper and other fizzy favourites in its stores and cafes.

In a two-year deal, the confectionery retailer will replace Thornton’s limited range of drinks, supplied by Britvic, with a more extensive offer that will also include Red Bull, Irn-Bru and Fruit Shoots.

A trial is being rolled out to 100 stores this month and some Coca-Cola lines will also be available in 40 Thorntons cafes from July.

The deal is the latest of several initiatives from Thorntons to offset the loss of trade on its core chocolate confectionery lines, after pre-tax profits slumped at the end of last year.

In November, the chocolatier launched its Hot Chocolate Bar concept as well as a new hot chocolate drink. In February, cheaper lines were displayed. And last month, Thorntons started selling 50 lines from Tangerine confectionery on its website on a trial basis. If the trials are successful, Thorntons plans to stock them in store.

Coca-Cola was the first choice for Thorntons as a branded drinks supplier, said Thorntons head of retail trading and marketing Geoff Kershaw.

“Coca-Cola came to us with a competitive price and presented us with the best proposal in terms of marketing and promotional support for both the launch and on an ongoing basis,” he said. “We will be working together to monitor performance and if the initial roll-out is a success we will extend it.