Shares in Thorntons were down on the FTSE All Share in morning trading after the chocolate maker reported a decline in sales in the third quarter ended 30 April.

Group sales in the period dropped 0.7 per cent to £64 million, a fall that was attributed by the company to especially hot weather over Easter.

The group's retail business saw sales fall 14.1 per cent to £36.5 million while its commercial arm reported a rise in sales of 25.1 per cent to £27.7 million. The success of the group's commercial arm was driven by 25 per cent growth in its commercial channel.

As a result of poor sales over Easter, a period which usually contributes a third of Thorntons Q3 own stores sales, and "an ongoing challenging retail environment", Thorntons said it expected pre-tax profit in the full year ended 25 June to be between £3.0 million and £4.5 million, well below the £6.1 million achieved last year.

Jonathan Hart, Chief Executive of Thorntons said, "The past quarter has been extremely challenging particularly in our Own Stores and for Franchisees and we foresee the prospect of this weakness in high street footfall and spending continuing. We have taken a number of actions including adjusting our trading strategy and aggressively managing our overhead costs, as well as ensuring that our production is geared to likely demand. Additionally we took steps to ensure that our ice cream was available in more stores than last year ahead of the Easter trading period. However, these significant additional sales were insufficient to offset the impact of the weather on those of our core chocolate items. The process of my strategic review is well under way and I look forward to presenting my conclusions in due course."

By 10:05 shares in Thorntons were down 10.28 per cent on the FTSE All Share to 72.00 pence per share.