Historic chocolate retailer founded in Yorkshire to shut all its stores

More than 600 employees are at risk of losing their jobs after chocolate retailer Thorntons announced it was closing all its shops, blaming the “ongoing impact of Covid-19”.

The company, established in Sheffield in 1911 by a travelling confectioner, Joseph Thornton, said it had taken the “difficult decision” to go into full consultation to begin the permanent closure of its 61 stores.

The firm cited what it describes as the “changing dynamics” of the high street, an increase in online sales and the “numerous lockdown restrictions” over the last year – particularly during key trading periods of Easter and Christmas, as the root cause.

Thorntons was acquired by Italian confectionary giant Ferrero in 2015 and since then has had a change of strategy, closing poor performing stores and making more of its product available through supermarkets and other retailers. This change resulted in its retail estate shrinking from 252 stores to the 61 which will now not reopen following lockdown.

Adam Goddard the firm’s retail director explained that the “difficult decision” was made because the “obstacles we have faced and will continue to face on the High Street are too severe”.

In a statement it the firm added: “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.

“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.”