12 September 2012 10:38
Confectionery retailer Thorntons has said that it is optimistic that its Best of British range boosted its turnaround plans, despite a fall in underlying full-year profits to £850,000, as it counted the cost of weak Christmas trading and some of the most challenging conditions in its history.
However, store sales in the final quarter of the year to June 30th returned to growth on a same-store basis and the group's second half performance was also its best in three years.
In an effort to reduce the company's reliance on the peak seasons of Christmas and Easter, Thorntons has introduced more limited edition chocolate ranges, such as this summer's Union Jack flag and a London bus, as well as a greater focus on customer standards.
Thorntons closed 36 stores in the period as part of its drive to exit under-performing high street locations and focus on a core estate of 180 to 200 sites.
Ahead of Christmas it will refurbish three stores with a new format and has vowed to review almost all of its products over the next year.
Chief executive Jonathan Hart, who has completed the first year of a three-year plan to restore the company's fortunes, said the actions were starting to deliver benefits.
He added: "The quality of our products, our brand and customer loyalty remain our core strengths and we are pleased that our products continue to be as popular as ever.
"We do not foresee the economic landscape improving in the near future. We have made our plans accordingly and believe that the actions we have taken and continue to take will deliver improvements to profitability. We therefore approach the coming year with cautious optimism."
In other news, the company announced that Paul Wilkinson, its current senior independent director, will succeed John von Spreckelsen as chairman upon his retirement from the board on February 1st 2013. Keith Edelman, non-executive director, will succeed Paul Wilkinson as senior independent director on the same date.