Thorntons has 38 cafés, the majority of which are at retail parks, and wants to try the format at other locations. Towards the end of last year, the retailer opened cafés at retail parks including Fort Kinnaird in Edinburgh, Castlepoint in Bournemouth and Orpington in Kent.
The cafés are larger than traditional Thorntons confectionery stores, measuring between 2,000 and 2,500 sq ft (185 and 230 sq m) approximately and selling cakes, sandwiches and cold and hot drinks. They also stock Thorntons’ confectionery ranges, with each unit being divided equally between café space and retail.
Thorntons chief executive Mike Davies said expansion would include factory outlets. “Factory outlets are a good market for us. They’re good sites and you get the added benefit of having a café there as well.”
Davies said he wants to increase the retailer’s store portfolio from 376 to 400, but declined to specify how many units would be cafés. Churston Heard is the lead agency searching for sites, with help from Gooch Cunliffe Whale.
He said he is also planning to revamp Thorntons’ brand image and will test a new store design in 10 shops this summer.
“It’s all about creating a quality image and brand for Thorntons,” said Davies. “It’s fair to say that the Thorntons stores are beginning to look a bit dated and we want to modernise them. We want to give more prominence to the chocolate, as opposed to the packaging.”
Thorntons delivered a 14 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to£11.9 million for the 28 weeks to January 12. The retailer’s interim total sales climbed 13.9 per cent to£126.7 million.
Thorntons said sales in the first quarter benefited from the poor weather in the summer months, but still showed 7.6 per cent growth in the second quarter against improving comparatives.