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The UK chocolate manufacturer Thorntons has revealed that Jonathan Hart who is the chief executive is to step down from his role in June.

Hart has been in his role for the past four years but the company will not specify the reasons for his departure. Thorntons has had a difficult time in recent years and business must not have been easy for Hart, with the total amount of stores on the high street halving to around 180. This included around 500 jobs being lost.

Barry Bloomer, who is currently the chief operating officer, will take on the role of interim chief executive once Hart has left the company and while the business searches for a more long-term successor.

Over the Christmas period, which tends to be the busiest time, Thorntons reported a 6.4% decline in sales for the 14 weeks to 10th January 2015. Not only that, but the company’s share price dropped 2.5% on early trading, following the announcement of Hart’s departure.

The weak numbers were said to have been because of major disruption at its centralised warehouse in Derbyshire during the run up to Christmas, Thorntons claimed. This was also harmed by a significant reduction in anticipated orders from major supermarkets and grocers during this period.