Thorntons chocolate chain to close 61 stores and cut 603 jobs across the country

Chocolate giant Thorntons must close all of its stores, cutting more than 600 jobs.

The street retailer said it had been devastated by the pandemic which closed many of its 61 stores during normally busy times over Christmas and Easter.

The company, founded in Sheffield in 1911, was bought by Italian food company Ferrero in 2015 for £ 112million.

Thorntons has injected £ 45million into transforming its operations, including new format stores and cafes, but the recovery plan has been sidetracked by the global health crisis.

The blow to jobs is the latest high-profile failure of UK’s Main Street, which has been hit by closures and the public’s shift to online shopping.

More than 17,500 chain stores disappeared from shopping streets last year.

Adam Goddard, director of retail at Thorntons, said: “The changing dynamics of Main Street, the changing behavior of customers online, the continued impact of Covid-19 and the many lockdown restrictions over the course of the past year – especially during our key trading times at Easter and Christmas – has meant that we have been trading under the most difficult circumstances.

“Unfortunately, like many others, the obstacles that we have faced and will continue to face on Main Street are too severe and despite our best efforts, we have made the difficult decision to permanently close our fleet of retail stores.

“We will now enter into full consultation with our colleagues.

“We understand that this will be an uncertain and worrying time for our colleagues and we will actively support them during this consultation period. “

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