Italian chocolate producer Ferrero has unveiled plans to acquire fellow manufacturer and retailer Thorntons for about £111.9m.


In a joint-announcement this morning, the two businesses said they have agreed for Ferholding, a Ferrero subsidiary, to buy the entire stockholding of Thorntons.

Ferrero will pay 145p for each Thorntons’ share, having taken an initial stake of 29.9%.

The deal values the UK producer and retailer at a 42.9% premium to its closing price on Friday.

Last month it emerged that Thorntons chief executive Jonathan Hart was stepping down after four years leading the business. The Derbyshire-headquartered company issued a profit warning in December after grocers cut orders and it experienced problems in its new warehouse.

Speaking today, Thorntons chairman Paul Wilkinson said: “Ferrero is offering our shareholders an attractive premium to the average price of Thorntons’ shares over the last three months.

“Although the prospects for Thorntons as an independent company remain strong as the company embarks on the next phase of its strategy, the board of Thorntons also recognises the potential benefits to the brand and the business, including employees and all stakeholders from combining with the Ferrero Group.”

Review of the business

Ferrero said it will carry out a “strategic and operational review” of Thorntons’ business and operations.

It added: “Pending the outcome… Ferrero cannot be certain what, if any, repercussions there will be for the locations of Thorntons’ place of business, or the redeployment of Thorntons’ fixed assets or employees and currently has no firm intentions in relation to the foregoing.”

Ferrero’s chief executive Giovanni Ferrero said: “This transactions brings together two highly complementary businesses, but more importantly it unites two companies that share the same passion for growing brands, and a proud heritage, drive and culture built upon their family foundations.

“We have long admired Thorntons and what they have achieved in the UK as demonstrated by their tremendous customer loyalty, and we look forward to working with their experienced team.”

Thorntons’ directors said they intend to recommend “unanimously” that its shareholders accept the Ferrero offer. The offer remains open until July 12, Ferrero said.