Thorntons chairman John von Spreckelsen is to retire from the company within 12 months.

The chocolatier said it has kicked off a search for a successor.

Von Spreckelsen ran Thorntons while it was searching for a new chief executive. Jonathan Hart, who moved from Caffe Nero, started at the beginning of the year.

Hart has carried out a strategic review of the business and over the next three years it will axe stores to create a sustainable retail estate and invest in product.