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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006, 08:46 GMT
Thorntons sales 'disappointing'
Thorntons' chocolates
Thorntons' sales have not been so sweet
Chocolate maker and retailer Thorntons has reported a "disappointing" fall in sales and said trading is set to remain "very challenging".

Like-for-like sales - which exclude the impact of store openings and closures - at Thorntons' own stores were down 4.8% in the 28 weeks to 7 January.

The firm said it was still in talks over a possible bid from its chairman.

However, given recent poor sales, the takeover team will now carry out more analysis before making any bid.

Poor sales

It is likely that the disappointing sales in the year to date... will have a material impact on trading performance for the year
Christopher Burnett, Thorntons chairman

On 3 January, Thorntons had warned that sales over the Christmas period had been disappointing.

In its latest update, it said total sales at the group were down 6.2% to 112.3m over the 28 weeks to 7 January.

"It is disappointing that we have suffered a sales decline in the first half year, which includes Christmas, our most important season," said chairman Christopher Burnett.

"The major cause was the widely publicised poor retail footfall that persisted throughout the period.

"It is likely that the disappointing sales in the year to date and the uncertain trading outlook will have a material impact on trading performance for the year," Mr Burnett added.

Takeover talks

In August last year, Thorntons announced it had received a takeover approach from its chairman, Mr Burnett, about a possible bid of 185 pence per share.

However, given the recent trading performance, Thorntons said Mr Burnett and his funders had told the firm that more analysis would be needed before any offer was put forward.

Thorntons said talks on the possible takeover were continuing, but there was no certainty that a bid would be made.

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