In its third quarter trading statement the firm revealed that overall group sales fell 0.7% since January, while high temperatures significantly impacted sales in Thorntons stores, franchises and its Thorntons Direct online channel.
Store sales fell by 13.9% to £31.4 million, although the firm grew its commercial sales channel by 25.1% and anticipates year-on-year growth in its market share of Easter seasonal lines.
Thorntons said its Easter period contributed to nearly 33% of the Q3 sales in its own stores, but that the hot weather and a challenging retail environment meant that like-for-like sales fell 22.8% against the same week last year.
The firm expects pre-tax profits for the year to June 25 2011 to range from £3m to £4.5m (£6.1m 2010), although it said sales for the year to date rose 2.9%.
Thorntons ceo Jonathan Hart said: "The past quarter has been extremely challenging particularly in our own Stores and for franchisees and we foresee the prospect of this weakness in high street footfall and spending continuing."
Hart said Thorntons had adjusted its trading strategy and was “aggressively managing” overhead costs, while ensuring thatproduction met likely demand.
“Additionally we took steps to ensure that our ice cream was available in more stores than last year ahead of the Easter trading period.
“However, these significant additional sales were insufficient to offset the impact of the weather on those of our core chocolate items. The process of my strategic review is well under way and I look forward to presenting my conclusions in due course.”