603 jobs at risk as Thorntons plans to shutter UK stores

Thorntons Adam Goddard
The company's online sales would be a key part of its strategy
// 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.

READ MORE: Hotel Chocolat vows to reopen all 125 stores despite online surge

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.

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  1. The retreat from the high street by highly regarded shops like several recent fashion chains, now Thorntons and John Lewis seem puzzling. It’s likely they may have been backed by taxpayers money in terms of furlough etc., & one wonders if some decisions are just based on companies running ahead and making hard business decisions that will cut staff under the cover of the Pandemic due to end in 8 weeks or less. It’s baffling because once warmer April & May bloom forth the consumers will flood onto those streets.

  2. The corporate statement only affects corporate stores not Franchise but if I were a franchisee having read a story about how they treated one chain with 30 shops I would go independent or with someone else that does franchised chocolate or go independent.

    I used to like Thornton’s and loved their dark chocolates but I won’t be buying it online and the selection in the supermarket is poor and they taste vile these days.

    The last box I purchased were wrapped but had half a layer missing. Needless to say I haven’t purchased their chocolates since. The only Kent store left is Bluewater one of the 61 closing.

    They were once in every big town and also had a tie up with the former Birthdays card chain.

    Won’t be buying from them online. Perhaps a place for a new entrant? Sorry for the staff though.

  3. Some of Thorntons shops are in prime positions and have a strong customer base. Angus Thirlwell at Hotel Chocolat will hopefully be looking at picking up proven ready made stores and their established customer base.

  4. Thornton’s didn’t move with the times and the brand isn’t premium anymore when they sell half price boxes in Asda almost constantly.

    Hotel Chocolat replaced them as the place to go for quality chocolate gifts.

    • I think your right my older teenager had hardly heard of them & in my Herts commuter town it’s the other company mentioned which dominates the shopping area. Companies have to move ahead and Costa is doing fine with its coffee now universal & long car queues here for drive in takeaway coffee.


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