Thorntons to scale back stores
29 June, 2011
Chocolatier Thorntons will close up to half of its stores over the next three years as part of a strategy to revive the flagging company.
At least 120 of Thorntons’ 364 own stores will close when their leases expire, the company said. The future of another 60 is in doubt and may go the same way. Thorntons hopes to succeed most of its closed stores with new franchised operations—it currently runs 227 sites on a franchise basis in the UK—but the closures could alert other operators to potentially interesting high street leases.
Chief executive Jonathan Hart—who was chief executive of Caffé Nero before joining Thorntons early this year—said the closures would save money and help to reinvigorate the business. “Our goal is to refocus the business across all channels and seek to deliver industry-competitive returns over the next three to five years. Although we see the prospect of weakness in high street footfall and consumer sentiment continuing, I am confident this strategy is right.” The Thorntons brand remained “strong, trusted and highly valuable,” he added.
Hart also wants to turn Thorntons into a year-round business rather than one focused on Easter and Christmas gift seasons. It will develop new gift ranges, including a flagship boxed chocolate brand, and improve merchandising, displays and customer service.