Thorntons, the UK chocolate manufacturer and retailer, has reported a 2 per cent increase in sales for the year to June, a disappointing performance caused almost entirely by the early summer heatwave.
While many areas of the food and drink industry welcomed the hot weather and the boost it gave to their sales, Thorntons and other confectionery makers were adversely affected by the weather.
Total sales for the year to 28 June increased to £167.1 million (€240m), with first half like-for-like sales up 1.6 per cent despite a poor Christmas. But the momentum of Valentine's Day and Easter soon melted away in the hot weather of June.
Like-for-like sales for the second half were reduced from 3.6 per cent in the first five months to -0.3 per cent for the six months as a whole, almost entirely due to the hottest June for 26 years, the company said.
But the group was encouraged by its overall performance, with the franchise, private label and commercial operations all performing well. Franchise sales grew by 8.8 per cent to £12.3 million while private label sales rose 3.3 per cent to £12.6 million.
Sales of Thorntons branded products through the major UK multiples - the company's newest business venture - nearly doubled to £3.1 million, helped almost entirely by the expansion of six products previously sold exclusively by Tesco to other retail outlets.
The gift delivery service continued to grow, with sales up 26.2 per cent to £5.3 million, while royalty income from the licensed range of cakes, desserts and other sweet foods edged up to £0.5 million from £0.2 million last year.
Peter Burdon, Thorntons chief executive, said that the poor performance caused by the hot weather was just a temporary setback and that he fully expected the company to continue the progress it had made in the last three years.
Thorntons' full results will be published in September.