Thorntons cautious ahead of Christmas

Struggling chocolate retailer Thorntons said weak consumer spending meant it was cautious in its outlook ahead of the key Christmas season.

Struggling chocolate retailer Thorntons said weak consumer spending meant it was cautious in its outlook ahead of the key Christmas season.

However, the firm said trading for the fourteen weeks up to and including October 6th was in line with expectations.

Total sales fell by 1% to £46m, mainly due to the effect of the planned 36 own store closures in the previous financial year, while commercial sales were up 9.8% to £21.2m.

Jonathan Hart, Thorntons' Chief Executive, said consumer spending and the wider economy remained weak and difficult to predict.

"We are therefore cautious in our outlook for the peak trading season ahead and have set our plans accordingly," he said.

But he added the firm was making good progress in its turnaround strategy and stressed it had a strong order book for Christmas.

"We continue to focus on improving profitability and are pleased that the margin improvements seen earlier in 2012 are continuing to flow through," he said.

The firm also noted overall sales in own stores fell by 7.0% to £21.7m, largely reflecting the store closures.

Own Store like-for-like sales dropped by 1.7%, while franchise sales were down to £2m following the loss of sales after its major franchisee partner went into administration in May 2012.

Sales at the company's website, Thorntons Direct, fell £0.1m to £1.1m ahead of the launch of its new website.

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