Chocolate retailer Thorntons has reported an almost 12 per cent drop in sales in the 14 weeks to October 4th.
The company blamed changing order patterns of supermarkets and other outlets as the key reasons for the 11.9 per cent decline in first quarter total group sales. Thorntons' total retail sales had dropped by 10.9 per cent while there was an eight per cent space reduction due to a number of planned closure. Own stores like-for-like sales had fallen by 3.7 per cent due to a warmer than expected September.
Thorntons was one of the companies hit by the tough trading conditions of 2011 and announced in the June of that year that it would be closing 180 stores over the following three years as part of a strategic review of its business. At the time it said that a "minimum" of 120 shops would be shut.
The company's decision to close a large number of outlets was designed to allow it to focus on expanding its commercial division. This involved maintaining relationships with supermarkets allowing Thorntons products to be sold to the consumer through a number of household name retailers.
However, the recent figures suggest that the transition has not been without its problems and Thorntons continues to battle against changing condition within the retail sector.
Jonathan Hart, chief executive of Thorntons, said in a statement: "We anticipated that sales for this quarter would be below last year as a result of the increasingly fluctuating order patterns in our UK commercial channel.
"These fluctuations will become more significant within the context of the company's performance as we continue to grow our FMCG business, making quarterly comparisons less meaningful."
The news of Thorntons drop in sales saw its share price trade 5.5 per cent lower during the opening hours on Monday (October 13th), reaching 93.55p.