Thorntons, the historic chocolate makers closes all UK stores after over 100 years of trading due to the Covid pandemic.

The British chocolate brand, which was established by Joseph William Thornton and his father, in 1911 has become the latest retail casualty badly hit by the pandemic.

National lockdowns forced its stores to close during the crucial Christmas and Easter holidays, where the company would have usually brought in majority sales through the doors.

Unfortunately, this has led to the company announcing none of its 61 stores will reopen when the latest lock down is lifted putting around 600 jobs at risk.

Adam Goddard, Thorntons Retail Director said:

The obstacles we have faced and will continue to face on the High Street are too severe.

Despite our best efforts we have taken the difficult decision to permanently close our retail store estate.

Thorntons was struggling since the early 2000’s, with competitors popping up in the market such as Hotel Chocolat.

In 2011, the company embarked on a strategy of selling more chocolates through supermarkets and closing unprofitable shops.

The company has been owned by the Italian firm Ferrero since June 2015, which was purchased for £112 million. Over the last 5 years, Thornton’s 252 stores had been further reduced to 61 stores.

Although Thorntons high street outlets will be closed, the business said it would continue to sell online and to supermarkets, a trend we have seen in other companies and sectors. Thorntons e-commerce business has increased by over 70% over the previous year.

The company said it will also try to expand the range of products made at its factory in Alfreton, Derbyshire and build a strategy for more international sales.

In a statement, the company said:

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.

Although 61 stores ran by Ferrero will close permanently, but 104 stores are run through franchise partnership agreements which operates independently and may re-open after the national lockdown.

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