* Q1 sales up 2.3 pct to 46.8 mln stg
* Own-store sales up 1.9 pct
* Shares up 4.9 percent at 0825 GMT
(Adds detail, CEO, analyst comments, shares)
By James Davey
LONDON, Oct 7 British chocolate retailer
Thorntons THT.L said it was well positioned for Christmas as
it posted a 2.3 percent rise in first-quarter sales, sending its
shares up nearly 5 percent.
"With the Christmas ranges, with the new products that we've
got and all the activity planned, we're really now in a good
position ahead of the key Christmas trading period," chief
executive Mike Davies told Reuters on Wednesday.
He said the recent launch of a new range of 'Continental
City' boxes, and planned launches in November of 'Metropolitan'
chocolates and 'Melts' targeted at young women underpinned his
"We are better prepared for what might come our way at
Christmas. We know it's going to be competitive," said Davies.
David Stoddart, analyst at Altium Securities, said that as
the second quarter was almost twice as important as the first
quarter he was leaving his year to June 2010 pretax profit
forecast unchanged at 7.7 million pounds.
Thorntons, which trades from 378 stores and 199 franchises,
said its total sales increased to 46.8 million pounds in the 14
weeks to Oct. 3, up from 45.7 million pounds in the previous
Shares in the 98-year-old firm, which have increased in
value by 55 percent over the last quarter on recovery hopes,
were up 5.75 pence at 123.25 pence at 0832 GMT, valuing the
business at about 85 million pounds.
Own store sales increased 1.9 percent, with like-for-like
sales up 1.3 percent, Thorntons Direct sales were up 2.4
percent, and sales to other retailers were up 7.2 percent.
However, franchise sales fell 15.2 percent as a result of
retailer Birthdays CLCA.L, which operated 94 franchises, going
into administration in May.
Thorntons' update was published as J Sainsbury (SBRY.L),
Britain's third-biggest grocer, posted a 5.4 percent rise in
third quarter underlying sales and as a survey showed consumer
confidence rose to its highest level for 17 months in September.
Davies said he did not think Thorntons' business would be
significantly affected if Kraft Foods Inc KFT.N took over
Cadbury CBRY.L, Britain's biggest chocolate seller.
(Editing by Paul Sandle/Will Waterman)