Thorntons missed out on the Christmas online shopping boom due to the late deployment of its new website and operational issues that “had a significant impact on sales in the period”, new figures reveal.
While many retailers are reporting online growth, the firm’s Thorntons Direct sales fell by £0.7M to £4.8M.
Nevertheless, the firm’s overall sales rose 5.4% over the key Christmas trading period compared with 2011, with figures for the 14 weeks to January 12 revealing sales totalling £88M. That was a rise of £4.5M on the same period a year ago.
This was despite a 9% overall sales decrease in its own stores to £40.9M. The result equates to a 1.9% like-for-like fall when the company’s 27 store closures over the past 12 months are factored in.
The figures also reveal that Thorntons-branded commercial sales grew by 26.4% to £34.7M. The company’s share of the total boxed chocolate market rose 11.7% to 12.1%, while its share of the inlaid boxed chocolate market rose from 33.5% to 35%.
Own-label sales substantially increased to £2.5M, but franchise sales fell £1.1M to £3M. The firm said this was expected, “mainly reflecting the placing into administration of our major franchisee in May 2012”.
International sales grew by 69.0% to £2.1M
Chief executive Jonathan Hart said: "We have grown market share and demonstrated the continued strength of the Thorntons brand, despite a challenging economy and a weak confectionery market.
"We enter the second half of our financial year with profits in line with our expectations and ahead of last year.
"Our important spring seasons, in particular Easter, lie ahead of us and will be key to the outcome of the full year. We have strong trading plans for spring and an encouraging commercial order book.
"We are confident in our strategy and the actions we are taking but remain cautious, given the continuing challenge of the economic climate."