Chocolate fountains sweeten sales at Thorntons

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Chocolate fountains sweeten sales at Thorntons

Ref: The Belfast Telegraph, Thursday, September 13, 2007, By Karen Attwood Chocolate fountains and the reintroduction of “old favourites” has helped the new management at Thorntons reverse a sales decline. Mike Davies, who joined the chocolatier as chief executive from Mars in October last year, said yesterday that Thorntons had been focusing on improving its products, stores and people as he unveiled a 36.5 per cent rise in full-year pre-tax profits to £7.1m. Mr Davies said customers were being enticed to spend more in stores through innovations such as a chocolate fountain display, which had added £2m to sales. “This created theatre within our stores with the lovely aroma of hot chocolate,” he said. “We have also tried to be imaginative with marketing,” he said, adding that the company had listened to its customers and brought back old favourites such as the Cherry Truffle and Hazelnut Slice. Like-for-like sales fell 3.5 per cent in the first quarter and 0.4 per cent in the second, but by the fourth quarter grew 7.2 per cent. “Clearly, the investments made during the year are beginning to bear fruit,” Mr Davies said. Revenues increased by 5.3 per cent to £186m over the year. Thorntons, positioned in the premium range, was well-placed to benefit from the trend for higher quality products, he added. “If people are going to be much more measured about what they eat, they will choose better quality products,” Mr Davies said. The company, which opened its first shop in Sheffield in 1911, also has an eye on the move towards healthier eating and has included ” reassurance for parents” on its products targeted at children, that they contain no artificial colours or preservatives. Mr Davies is not complacent and says there is still much work to do. “The year ahead will be critical in building the basis for sustainable growth,” he said. Andrew Wade, at Seymour Pierce, said: “With sales momentum sticking and considerably more opportunity for the business to grow top line, we are increasingly comfortable with our top-of-the-range forecast for 2008 of £8.9m and see good growth from here going forwards.”