Thorntons is gunning to make online a £10m division as the chocolatier seeks to bolster its multichannel business.
Chief executive Jonathan Hart wants to grow online to 10% of its retail sales in the next three years.
Thorntons’ online sales are currently £6.6m, which is 5% of its total £132.1m retail sales. Thorntons is slimming down its UK store estate, making online key to future growth. It already offers personalised products online and will launch click and collect in the long term.
Hart said: “We have invested in a new website, it’s early days.” He said as the retail business shrinks retail sales will be around £100m and he wants online to make up 10% of that.
Hart is enacting a strategy to reduce Thorntons’ store estate and build its commercial channel. The retailer began the financial year in July with 330 stores and will have around 290 at its year end as it attempts to get out of onerous leases.
Thorntons has re-opened concessions in 17 Clintons stores after its previous 46 concessions closed when the card retailer collapsed into administration in May.
Thorntons has negotiated the reopening of the outlets with Clintons’ new owners Schurman Retail Group and is supplying some further stores with Thorntons products.
Hart said Thorntons is in talks with other gift card chains to open further franchises after creating a new mini-franchise format earlier this year.
Hart said Thorntons is “confident” that the all-important Christmas trading period will be better than last when the retailer was forced to issue a profit warning.
The retailer’s supply to the major grocers was hindered by a backlog of stock at its warehouse that was not taken quickly enough by the supermarkets in 2011. Hart said: “Last year was challenging due to logistical problems and the highly promotional nature of the market. This year we have some excellent new products and are well prepared.”