Thorntons plans to close at least 120 stores, and may close a further 60 more, following the completion of its strategic review.
The review concluded that the company can run a “sustainable and profitable” own store channel of between 180 and 200 stores. At present it has 364. The company will seek to replace the stores with franchised units in as many locations as possible.
The review, which outlines how Thorntons will reposition itself over the next three years, said that as well as the slimmed down own store business and building up the number of franchised stores, Thorntons will focus on developing its commercial and direct channels. It anticipates further strong growth in the commercial channel, which supplies supermarkets and other retailers.
Those company owned stores which do remain will benefit from improved merchandising and displays, and a differentiated and less seasonal product offer. New gift ranges and a new flagship boxed chocolate brand are to be developed, and a programme to improve the customer experience is to be developed.
Chief executive Jonathan Hart said he felt the brand had “excellent potential” and insisted “although we see the prospect of weakness in high street footfall and consumer sentiment continuing, I am confident that this strategy is right.”