Thorntons' shares slump by 25% after profit warning

Thorntons shop front Image copyright Thorntons

Chocolate firm Thorntons has warned its investors that annual profits will fall this year because of poor sales of its products in some supermarket chains.

The firm's shares slumped by 25% when the London stock market opened, dropping by 30p to 86p.

The fall in sales was partly due to supplies being disrupted by problems at the firm's new depot in Derbyshire.

Thorntons says those are over, but lower sales in the run-up to Christmas will depress the whole year's profits.

Last year, the company made £7.5m in pre-tax profits and as recently as October told its investors it expected to make annual profits of nearly £10m for the year 2014-15.

"The board now anticipates a decline in sales in the UK Commercial channel [supermarkets] for the second quarter of the current financial year," it said.

"The board now expects earnings for the full year to be below those achieved for the last financial year."

Despite these problems, sales in Thorntons' own shops and in convenience stores have been growing.

For the past three years the company has been revamping itself and reviving its profitability, mainly by shutting unprofitable stores and increasing the volume of sales it generates via supermarkets and other stores.

It currently runs 249 shops and plans to cut that number further to between 180 and 200.

Shareholders will be given a further trading update in January.

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