Thorntons, the high street chocolatier and café operator, has reported a fall in sales and pre-tax profit for the 28 weeks to 7 January, as it tries to “weather a difficult market”. Pre-tax profit for the period stood at £3.1m down from £8.4m in the previous year. However, after stripping out £2.4m of exceptional items, including onerous leases, profits fell 93% to £618,000. Sales were down by 5.5%, with revenue fairly flat at £130m down from £133.5m the year before. In June last year, it announced it would close 120 stores. It said this process was on track with 20 sites closed so far, while there was a possibility of a further 60 closing on top of the original 120 stated. It said that trading since the period end has been in line with expectations. Thorntons' chief executive, Jonathan Hart said: “Our vision for the company is clear. We are pursuing our chosen strategy and have made good progress in implementing it while weathering a difficult market. “These results and the economic climate only reaffirm the need for change. We have a well-managed balance sheet, quality asset-backing and good cash generation. The board is confident that Thorntons has the expertise and the resources to successfully complete this transformation and restore profitability.” “The economic and retail environment will remain challenging and uncertain for the foreseeable future, certainly through 2012, but we are encouraged by our strong range for the remaining key spring trading seasons of Mothers Day and Easter and have a strong order book to support this.” The group also announced the appointment of Keith Edelman as an independent non-executive director with effect from 21 February 2012. Edelman is currently non-executive chairman at the retailing group Beale plc, senior independent director at the UK branded fashion retailer Supergroup and a non-executive director of Safestore Holdings plc. He is also a Non-Executive Director of the Olympic Park Legacy Company.