Chocolate giant Thorntons to close all 61 stores with 603 jobs at risk

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Chocolate retailer Thorntons has announced plans to permanently shut all its 61 stores with 603 jobs impacted.

The confectionary brand blamed the devastating financial impact of the ongoing coronavirus lockdown on its decision to begin the closure of its retail stores.

A spokesperson for Thorntons said on Monday: "Like many companies, we have been operating for a long time in a tough and challenging retail environment.

"We have been committed to transforming and growing a successful Thorntons retail estate; this has included significant investments to open new format stores and cafes and ensuring we had stores in the right locations.

"However, changing dynamics of the high street, shifting customer behaviour to online, the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and the numerous lockdown restrictions over the last year – especially during our key trading periods at Easter and Christmas – has meant we have been operating in the most challenging circumstances.

"Unfortunately like many other retailers, the obstacles we have faced and will continue to face on the high street are too severe.

"Despite our best efforts we have taken the difficult decision to go into full consultation to start the permanent closure of our retail store estate. We understand that this will be an uncertain and concerning time for our colleagues and we will actively support them during this period.

"As customers continue to change the way they shop, we must change with them. We have seen a strong growth in and this will remain a key focus for us in continuing to provide you with your favourite Thorntons ranges, including our unique personalisation offering.

"In addition, we continue to invest in building our brand in grocery channels with our partners in order to meet the demand from you, our loyal customers.

"We remain committed to our iconic Thorntons brand and will continue to invest further in the future potential to ensure we evolve with the times."

Thorntons was first established by Joseph William Thornton and his father in Sheffield in 1911.

The brand has the largest confectionery only parent company in Britain.

It has been in financial strife for more than a decade, prompting a rebuke from the founder's grandson in 2011.

"It's an old family business and I've been involved with it since I was 10 years old," former chairman Peter Thornton said at the time.

"I'm emotional about it. I hate to see it going downhill. I'd love to be able to put it right, which I don't think would be a very difficult job. I'm not very good at just letting go and letting somebody else wreck it."

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