The company said that it is taking a cautious view on the outlook for the remainder of the financial year, as it reported its third quarter trading update for the 14 weeks up to and including 17 April 2010.
And the chocolate manufacturer said that consumers remain focused on value in the uncertain economic environment.
While like for like sales in the run up to Easter were positive, trading overall during that festive period was below expectations, said Thornton’s.
However, group sales since January were up 3.1 per cent to £60.3m and sales of Thornton’s branded products grew by 5.9 per cent, said
But own store sales declined by 4.9 per cent, with the company reporting that more customers seemed to be buying buy its chocolates from supermarkets rather than its own retail outlets. Sales of Thornton’s brands from supermarkets proved better with an increase of 33.9 per cent to £20.8m, noted the firm.
Online sales grew by 32.4 per cent to £2.5m after more customers opted to personalise products with iced messages or photographs on chocolate boxes, it added. Both consumer and corporate business made a positive contribution to online sales, said the company.
Franchise sales, mirroring the situation in the manufacturer's own store outlets, declined by 20.6 per cent to £3.1m.
Shares fell 12 per cent after the chocolate maker reduced its pre-tax profits guidance for the year to £7.5m, compared with the stock market predictions of around £8.9m.