Thorntons insisted that its plans to close 120 stores and drive business through supermarkets and other commercial channels was making “good progress”, despite reporting a decrease in like-for-like sales of 5.5% for the half year period ending January 7.
The firm also confirmed that it was “exploring opportunities” to close a further 60 stores in the next three years as part of the plan.
Chief executive, Jonathan Hart said: “Our vision for the company is clear. We are pursuing our chosen strategy and have made good progress in implementing it while weathering a difficult market.
Good cash generation
“These results and the economic climate only reaffirm the need for change. We have a well-managed balance sheet, quality asset-backing and good cash generation. The board is confident that Thorntons has the expertise and the resources to successfully complete this transformation and restore profitability.”
Thorntons set out the new structure in June last year in a bid to create a smaller retail estate, revitalise the brands and restore profitability.
This followed the news that the firm’s margins had been hit by rising raw material costs and customers were more likely to buy promoted lines.
However the firm reported a decrease in revenues for the key festive season, with sales down to £130M, compared with £133.5M the previous year.
Thorntons also announced profit before tax of £3.1M, down from £8.4M in 2011.
Hart said: “The economic and retail environment will remain challenging and uncertain for the foreseeable future, certainly through 2012. But we are encouraged by our strong range for the remaining key spring trading seasons of Mother’s Day and Easter and have a strong order book to support this."