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Thorntons and Booker results: at a glance

Thorntons boss Jonathan Hart reported no signs of an increase in consumer spending
Thorntons boss Jonathan Hart reported no signs of an increase in consumer spending

High street confectioner Thorntons and cash and carry specialist Booker both posted financial results today (July 9).

Thorntons posted sales in its fast moving consumer goods division (FMCG) up by 7.9% for the year to June 28. UK commercial sales rose by 9.9%, with international sales up by 5%.

But retail division sales fell by 5.6% over the period, as like-for-like sales rose by 1.1%.

Consumer direct sales were 15.4% up and franchise sales rose by 1.9%. Total company sales were 0.7% up.

The confectioner also released results for its fourth quarter, revealing a 22.2% increase in UK commercial sales.

Fourth quarter retail sales fell by 11.1%, with the closure of 11 stores during the period. Like-for-like sales fell by 3.9%.

‘Returned to growth’

Jonathan Hart, Thorntons' chief executive, predicted profit will be in line with market expectations. “Our FMCG division returned to growth during the quarter as a result of a strong performance in our UK commercial channel,” he said.

“In line with previous periods, we saw no signs of improvement in consumer spending on the high street during this quarter, which is our shortest and smallest quarter and accounts for around 10% of full year sales.”

The UK market remained highly competitive, he added. “We are on track with our store closure programme, which is focused on delivering a sustainable retail estate and remain confident that our strategy is the right one.”

Meanwhile, Booker posted total sales, including Makro, up by 3.8% in an interim management statement for the 12 weeks to June 20.

Booker’s chief executive Charles Wilson will tell today’s annual general meeting Booker Wholesale, the firm’s cash and carry division, had a good quarter. “Customer numbers were up and sales were in line with expectations,” Wilson will say.  

‘Makro turnaround is on track’

“Overall, our delivered wholesale businesses had a good quarter. The Makro turnaround is on track with cash and profits in line with expectations. Makro's non tobacco like-for-likes were down 12% as we have continued to exit non profitable, non professional categories. Sales in India are continuing to make progress.” 

Booker’s £140M acquisition of the loss-making Makro was approved by the competition regulators in April 2013.

The business remained in a strong financial position, with a net cash position. 

After a good start, Booker Group was on course to meet expectations for the year ending March 27 2015, said Wilson.

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