Chocolate maker Thorntons said annual results should hit market hopes as it reaped the rewards of a drive to sell its products through other retailers.

Although same- store sales fell at its own high street chain, sales through outlets such as supermarkets more than doubled to £22.3 million.

This contributed to total sales increasing by five per cent to £187.7 million during the year to June 25.

Thorntons chocolates are now stocked by stores such as Tesco, Sainsbury's, WH Smith and Woolworths, following a strategy change aimed at halting a five-year run of declining profits. The group said in an update ahead of its annual results that total sales at its own stores fell two per cent to £134.1 million following a net closure of nine sites.

Excluding the impact of store closures and openings, sales dropped by 0.7 per cent - compared with a rise of 0.8 per cent at the time of its interim results.

Franchise sales increased by 4.2 per cent to £13.4 million with outlets increasing by 13 to 216. But other sales, principally principally Thorntons Direct and private label sales, were down from £ 19 . 1 million to £17.8 million.

Chairman Christopher Burnett described the sales figures as " encouraging" in a difficult trading environment.

Many high street retailers have seen a steeper decline in same-store sales. Mr Burnett said: "This sales outcome means that our performance for the year should be in line with market expectations."