Thorntons unveils profits boost

ThorntonsChocolate retailer Thorntons said its profits will be "substantially" ahead of expectations after a successful Easter trading period.

Expanding on an upbeat statement issued earlier this month, Thorntons said it was hopeful that the current quarter will deliver further improvement.

The latest update prompted Panmure Gordon stockbrokers to forecast profits of £4.7 million for the year to June, up from £3.2 million previously.

Thorntons has revived its business with an increased focus on commercial channels, such as the sale of chocolate boxes through supermarkets.

It said its Easter market share grew to 4.7% from 4% a year earlier, helping Thorntons branded UK commercial sales grow 10% to £27.4 million.

The group's turnaround has also involved shrinking its store footprint to a core estate of 180 to 200 sites.

Total sales from the estate were down 4.1% to £26 million as a further nine stores were closed in the quarter. However, on a like-for-like basis the figure was 0.2% higher in a period that included Mother's Day and Valentine's Day.

Chief executive Jonathan Hart said: "We are pleased to report a satisfactory period of trading across the third quarter of our financial year.

"Growing market share further demonstrates the strength of the Thorntons brand and offer."

Shares were 5% higher following the update and have now doubled in value in 2013.
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