British confectionery brand and retailer Thorntons has announced that it is permanently closing its UK stores and putting 603 jobs at risk, after more than 100 years of trading.
The company made the announcement to shut all 61 stores on Monday, referring to the changing dynamics of the high street and the ongoing impact of Covid-19.
“Like many companies, we have been operating for a long time in a tough and challenging retail environment,” said Adam Goddard, retail director at Thorntons. The chocolate brand was acquired by Ferrero back in 2015 for £112 million, following several attempts to revive the business.
Despite investing over £45 million in the brand, including the opening of new format stores and cafes, Thorntons says the shifting consumer behaviour to online and Covid-19 restrictions over the last year has meant it has been trading “in the most challenging circumstances”.
The company particularly refers to the numerous lockdown restrictions during the crucial Easter and Christmas trading periods.
“Unfortunately like many others, the obstacles we have faced and will continue to face on the high street are too severe and despite our best efforts we have taken the difficult decision to permanently close our retail store estate. We will now go into full consultation with our colleagues across our 61 Thorntons-owned stores,” added Goddard.
The consultation will review approximately 603 roles and Thorntons says it will actively support its colleagues during this period. However, the group will retain its UK factories in Alfreton and Greenford, where impacted employees will have the opportunity to apply for vacancies.
Thorntons says its strategy going forward will be to focus on its online channel – where net sales increased 71% over the last year – as well as continue to build its brand in the grocery channels.
“We remain committed to this iconic British brand and will continue to invest further in the future potential of Thorntons to ensure we evolve with the times,” concluded Goddard.
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