In a brief announcement this morning, Thorntons informed shareholders that Jonathan Hart is to step down as CEO and resign from his directorship in June.
Hart joined the chocolatier in 2011, tasked with reviving a retailer that was battling against budget brands and luxury offerings from the likes of Hotel Chocolat.
During his tenure, Hart closed some underperforming stores and invested in better suited locations but profit warnings were consistent, blamed on the timings of annual holidays and ongoing difficulties in the economic climate. By December’s trading update, Thorntons had suffered teething problems in its new warehouse and in its wholesale division, as major supermarket players reduced orders.
Paul Wilkinson, Chairman of Thorntons, said:
“Over the past four years Jonathan has turned around our Retail business, as well as creating and delivering the vision and strategy that will serve as the platform for the continued transformation of Thorntons into an international consumer goods business. On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Jonathan for his significant contribution and wish him well for the future.”
A search for his successor is to be initiated but in the meantime, current COO Barry Bloomer will act as interim Chief Executive.