UK chocolate company Thorntons proved a big hit over the Christmas trading period as total sales rose 5.4 per cent, according to a trading update Wednesday.
The business made £88m in total sales in the 14 weeks up to January 12th - an increase of £4.5m on the same period a year ago - as consumers stocked up on chocolates during the holiday season.
Branded commercial sales grew by 26.% to £34.7m. The company's share of the total boxed chocolate market increased from 11.7% to 12.1% and its share of the inlaid boxed chocolate market rose from 33.5% to 35%.
However, in its own stores like-for-like sales declined by 1.3% as three shops were closed during the period, meaning it had 27 fewer than a year ago.
Franchise sales by £1.1m to £3.0m mainly due to its major franchisee going into administration last May.
Direct sales also decreased by £0.7m to £4.8m as it was late in setting up its new website and experienced operational issues which had significant impact on sales in the period.
On a higher note, international sales grew by 69.0% to £2.1m.
Jonathan Hart, Thorntons' Chief Executive, said: "We are pleased with the overall progress made during this key trading period. These results demonstrate the effectiveness of our multi-channel distribution model and our strategy to rebalance our routes to market and revitalise the business as a whole.
"We have grown market share and demonstrated the continued strength of the Thorntons brand despite a challenging economy and a weak confectionery market."
He continued: "We enter the second half of our financial year with profits in line with our expectations and ahead of last year. Our seasonal lines have sold through well, resulting in stock levels lower than anticipated and below last year at the period end.
"Our important spring seasons, in particular Easter, lie ahead of us and will be key to the outcome of the full year. We have strong trading plans for spring and an encouraging Commercial order book. We are confident in our strategy and the actions we are taking but remain cautious given the continuing challenge of the economic climate."
House-builder Barratt Developments said first half pre-tax profit is expected to be more than double than the prior year and anticipates a significant improvement in profit for the full year 2013.
Pre-tax profit for the six months to December 31st is expected to be around £45m. Group revenues are forecast to be around £950m, in line with prior year, with total completions of 5,085 units.
Private completions increased by 5.3% on the previous year to 4,241 units.
Group operating profit expected to be roughly £80m for the period, up by 31% on the prior year.
Net debt at the period end was £332m, down sharply £542.2m in the prior year.
Private forward sales, excluding JVs, were up 35.5% on the prior year at £536.5m.
Chief Executive Mark Clare commented: "This has been a good first half performance. Pre-tax profit has more than doubled, net debt was significantly lower than the prior year, and we have started the second half with a strong private forward order book up by over 35%."
"In addition, we have been investing for the future, successfully securing higher margin land both in the South-East and across the rest of the country that will drive further profit growth."