Chocolate retailer Thorntons has today announced the retirement of its Chairman, John von Spreckelsen.
Von Spreckelsen joined the company in 2006, following his role as CEO of Budgens and Chairman of Somerfield, but now intends to retire from the industry within the next twelve months.
His announcement follows disappointing sales figures for the brand, which reported a total retail sales fall of 8.2 per cent to £139.5 million, for the 52 weeks to June 25th 2011 and a like-for-like sales declined of 7.9 per cent over the same period.
This considerable slump in trading has lead to a decision to close up to 180 of the company’s stores nationwide, as the retailer looks to rebalance its portfolio and create profitable real estate.
While confirming that the search for a suitable successor is being initiated, the board did not comment on any possible replacement for the Spreckelsen at this stage.
Taking on the position at such a difficult time will surely put any successor in the hot seat, though such a challenge did not deter current CEO Jonathan Hart, who took over from Mike Davies at the start of the year.
Joining the company from his previous post as Managing Director of coffee retailer Caffe Nero, Hart has maintained a positive outlook on the group’s future despite the challenging market.
Speaking earlier this month, Hart expressed his pleasure over the company’s overall sales increase during its centenary year, despite low footfall and a decrease in profit.
“Our goal over the next three years is to rebalance the business and to create a profitable and sustainable retail estate,” he added.
“While we expect to see the weakness in high street footfall and consumer spending to continue through 2012, we are confident that this strategy is right for the company.”