// Thorntons plans to permanently close its entire UK store estate
// The Covid-19 pandemic has affected trading
Thorntons has announced plans to permanently close its entire UK store estate of 61 sites, which will affect 603 workers.
The chocolate retailer said its decision is currently the subject of consultation with employees, and hopes to redeploy some of those affected.
Thorntons said the Covid-19 pandemic has affected trading, particularly due to lockdown restrictions.
Changing dynamics of the high street, shifting customer behaviour to online, the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and the numerous lockdown restrictions over the last year – especially during our key trading periods at Easter and Christmas – has meant we have been trading in the most challenging circumstances,” Thorntons retail director Adam Goddard said.
“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.”
Thorntons has been owned by Italian firm Ferrero since 2015.
The company’s online sales would be a key part of its strategy after it recorded a 71 per cent rise in ecommerce sales in the last year.
The news of Thorntons’ decision to shutter its store estate follows a string of big names to go online-only, such as Debenhams which was bought by Boohoo, and Topshop bought by online giant Asos.
In separate news, fellow chocolate retailer Hotel Chocolat said all 125 stores will reopen once Covid-19 restrictions are eased and that there no plans to shut any permanently.
Chief executive Angus Thirlwell said while he expected to see a slowdown in business at city centre and travel locations, stores could see a boost from home workers working more flexible office hours in the future.