Thorntons, the high street chocolatier, has marked its centenary year with record sales figures – but posted a loss of £1.1m after it was hit by £5.4m in impairment charges, such as high rents.

Revenues increased by 1.7% to £218.3m in the year to 25 June after strong sales through supermarkets and other commercial channels offset an 8.2% drop in sales via its own stores.

Pre-tax profits before exceptional items dropped to £4.3m from £6.9m.

Commercial sales jumped 26% to £78.8m in the full year, as Thorntons continued to develop distribution deals with supermarkets, while it took its share of the chocolate box market to around 34%.

The market share of Thorntons branded products increased by 7.7% , up from 7.4% in 2010.

The chain, which plans to close up to 180 stores over the next three years as it grows sales through the internet and other retailers, is working on revitalising the brand by creating a “theatre of the senses” in its stores, and will look to rely less on seasonal events.

John von Spreckelsen, Thorntons’ chairrman, said: “We anticipate that the weakness in footfall and consumer sentiment experienced through our own store and franchise channels during the first half of 2011 will continue at least into 2012. We are, however, looking forward to another strong year of growth in our commercial channel”.

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