Thorntons issues profit warning

SOMERCOTES chocolate firm Thorntons said it was unlikely to make a profit in 2012, having been hit by supermarket discounting and tough trading conditions.

It comes after July, 2011, when the company said it was to close between 120 and 180 of its 579 stores over the next three years, mostly when leases expired, hoping instead to open them as franchises.

In a statement the firm, which employs 1,000, estimates it will only break even this year towards the end of June, after making a profit of £4.3 million in the previous year. Shares fell nearly 38 per cent to 23.25p, making them one of the biggest fallers on the Stock Market. A trading update in October had showed like-for-like sales falling nearly eight per cent at company-owned stores, with franchise sales down 6.4 per cent.