Thorntons To Permanently Close Entire Retail Estate.

March 25, 2021

UK confectionary giant Thornton’s announced in mid-March that it will not be re-opening the doors on its 61 stores after the 12th April lifting of lockdown restrictions on non-essential retail stores goes into effect.

In a statement, Thornton’s said;

Unfortunately, like many other retailers, the obstacles we have faced and continue to face on the high street are too severe.

Despite our best efforts, we have taken the decision to go into full consultation and start the permanent closure of our retail store estate.

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

Reduced Estate

Over the last five years, Thornton’s stores have shrunk from 251 to 61, closing down stores deemed to be unprofitable.

With this announcement, a further 600 jobs are now at risk. Despite consumer confidence at it’s highest since the lockdowns began, this will no doubt have a negative effect on the already beleaguered high street.

Indeed, £45 million had been spent on the refurbishment of stores and the creation of more experiential stores and cafes, but the chain suffered at the hands of the pandemic, which saw its shops hit hard by UK lockdowns, forcing them to stay shut during crucial holiday events like Christmas and Easter.

The company insist that it isn’t all doom and gloom, though, recording that since the pandemic began, there has been a 70% increase in online sales compared to the previous year, recording only a minor drop in share price to 142.875.

But with increasing competition from chains like Hotel Chocolat, who saw relatively stable share price growth (at the time of writing trading on 395.00, up from 235.00 from March 2020), it is clear that Thornton’s have been losing ground to more innovative companies and are unable to keep trading merely on rosy nostalgia alone.

And while the famously secretive Ferrero group are still playing their cards close to their chest, they may well be regretting their decision to acquire the confectioners in 2015, as their market share has continued to dwindle.

Thornton Statement
FT Reaction