Supermarket chocolate sales help boost Thorntons' profits
DERBYSHIRE chocolate-maker Thorntons has reported a significant rise in half-year profits, driven largely by sales through supermarkets.
The Somercotes-based firm said that, in the six months to January 12, the company achieved pre-tax profits of £5.3 million, a rise of £2.2 million, or 71%, on the same period 12 months ago.
Sales were also up from £130 million to £133.7 million – a rise of £3.7 million, or 2.9%. But sales at its own stores fell by 8.3%, to £62.6 million, which the company said was mainly due to the closure of 13 stores.
The firm is in the process of reducing the size of its High Street presence in order to concentrate on commercial sales – achieved through supermarkets. In this division, Thorntons saw a strong increase in sales, rising by 16.1%, from £44.6 million to £51.8 million.
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But as well as seeing sales fall at its own stores, of which it has 317, the company also reported a decline at its 189 franchised outlets, where sales fell by 25.4%, from £6.7 million to £5 million.
Online sales declined by 11.9%, from £6.7 million to £5.9 million, which the company said was due to the "late deployment" of its revamped website and "operational issues in the peak selling period", which was Christmas.
But efforts by Thorntons to increase its exports appear to be reaping dividends. The firm said that international sales grew by 57.7%, from £2.6 million to £4.1 million.
Chief executive Jonathan Hart said: "We are encouraged by the overall progress we made during the first half of the year.
"This performance demonstrates that our strategy is generating results as we continue to rebalance the business, revitalise the brand and restore profitability.
"Our customers have responded positively to our increased focus on innovation, value and service and our market share has grown further."
Thorntons wants to reduce the number of stores it owns to about 180.
The firm said that it was on track to close about 40 stores during its current financial year, including an outlet in Belper.
Mr Hart said: "While trading since the period end has been in line with our expectations, we look forward to our important spring trading seasons of Mother's Day and Easter which will be key to the outcome of the full year."