Thorntons reports loss despite record sales

Image caption Thorntons said it expected to see weak consumer sentiment continuing

Chocolate maker Thorntons has reported a full-year loss despite record sales, due to a number of exceptional items including ongoing lease payments on closed stores.

The company made a loss of £253,000 for the year to 25 June, compared with a profit of £4.4m the previous year. Revenues were up slightly at £218.3m.

Without the exceptional items, profit would have been £4.2m.

The firm said it expected weak consumer spending to continue next year.

A number of retailers are struggling in the difficult trading environment.

Electrical goods firm Dixons reported a sharp fall in quarterly sales on Wednesday, while figures published on Tuesday by the British Retail Consortium suggested UK retail sales fell in August, as weak consumer confidence and high inflation undermined High Street spending.

Seasonal effects

Thorntons said corporate sales grew by more than a quarter over the year, while net debt also fell slightly.

"In the year that marks the centenary of Thorntons, I am pleased to report record overall sales, despite the challenging retail environment," said chief executive Jonathan Hart.

In June, Thorntons announced plans to close up to 180 stores over the next three years following a strategic review of its business.

The previous month, the company issued a profit warning after the hot weather over Easter led to a sharp drop in chocolate sales.

The company is looking to expand its commercial division, which sells Thornton-branded chocolate via supermarkets and other retailers.

It also wants to become less dependent on seasonal events such as Easter and Christmas.

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