Chocolate shop chain Thorntons is to shut all of its 61 stores, putting 603 jobs at risk.
The retailer said it has been hit hard by the pandemic, which has kept many of its stores shut for key periods around Christmas and Easter.
Adam Goddard, retail director at Thorntons, said “changing dynamics of the high street, shifting customer behaviour to online, the ongoing impact of Covid-19, and the numerous lockdown restrictions” have meant the chain has been “trading in the most challenging circumstances.
“Unfortunately, like many others, the obstacles we have faced and will continue to face on the high street are too severe and despite our best efforts we have taken the difficult decision to permanently close our retail store estate.
Here is everything you need to know about it.
Which shops are closing?
Thorntons plans to close all of its 61 stores. The full list of Thorntons outlets which will be permanently shut is as follows:
|Birmingham High St|
|Cardiff St Davids|
|Leeds White Rose|
|Lincoln High St|
|Newcastle High Friars|
|Sheffield Crystal Peaks|
|Sheffield MH Lower|
|Sheffield MH Upper|
|Swindon Gt Western|
Is this the end for Thorntons chocolate?
Though its shops may be closing, Thorntons will continue to operate as a business and will provide its chocolates and confectionery through online sales and its grocery supply business.
It said it has seen sales surge online and will invest in its grocery supply business as part of the shake-up of its operations.
Thorntons said it pumped £45 million into transforming its operations, including new-format stores and cafes, but saw its turnaround plan thrown off course by the pandemic.
Who owns Thorntons?
The company, which was founded in Sheffield in 1911, was bought by Italian food giant Ferrero in 2015 for £112 million.
Ferrero has said it will continue to invest in the business, and hopes to grow its international supply business from its Alfreton factory in Derbyshire.
The collapse of the store business is the latest high-profile failure on the UK high street, which has been battered by large periods of closures and depressed footfall.
New figures from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed this weekend that more than 17,500 chain store outlets disappeared from high streets last year.
Goddard said Thorntons will “now go into full consultation” with colleagues over the expected job losses.
“We understand that this will be an uncertain and concerning time for our colleagues and we will actively support them during this period of consultation,” he added.
The news comes as the John Lewis Partnership group – which also owns grocery chain Waitrose – warned it did not expect all of its John Lewis stores to reopen as lockdown restrictions are eased across the UK, having suffered its first ever annual loss since 1864.