Chocolate retailer Thorntons to shut all shops in North

Thorntons will close all its stores in Northern Ireland. Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

Chocolate shop chain Thorntons is to shut all its 61 stores in Britain and Northern Ireland, putting 603 jobs at risk.

The retailer said it has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has kept many of its stores shut for key periods around Christmas and Easter.

It said it has seen sales surge online and will invest in its grocery supply business as part of the shake-up of its operations.

The company, which was founded in Sheffield in 1911, was bought by Italian food giant Ferrero in 2015 for £112 million (€130 million).

The company said 603 store staff will enter consultations. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA

Thorntons said it pumped £45 million into transforming its operations, including new-format stores and cafes, but saw its turnaround plan thrown off course by the pandemic.

Ferrero said it will continue to invest in the business and hopes to grow its international supply business from its Alfreton factory.

The collapse of the store business is the latest high-profile failure on the UK high street, which has been battered by large periods of closures and depressed footfall.

Adam Goddard, retail director at Thorntons, said: “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.

“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.

“We will now go into full consultation with our colleagues.

“We understand that this will be an uncertain and concerning time for our colleagues and we will actively support them during this period of consultation.”


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