Thorntons to close 180 stores and shift strategy

Thorntons’ marketing director Peter Wright is to leave the chain amid a shake up that will see it close 180 high street stores.

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Wright will leave the chain on 1 July following a split in his marketing and retail responsibilities, as part of the strategy review revealed today (28 June).

The chocolatier is shifting its strategy towards franchise operations in a bid to reverse its sliding sales.

The retailer, which reported a 14% fall in sales in the three months to 30 April, says it wants to reduce its reliance on seasonal events such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter and “capitalise on Thorntons’ brand strength”.

It plans to grow its year round relevance by introducing new gifting ranges for occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and congratulations and introduce a new flagship boxed chocolate brand in 2012.

It will also improve its store merchandising and displays and its customer service.

Thorntons hopes the three year strategy will reposition the business and create a more “compelling commercial, franchise and online offering”.

Jonathan Hart, Thorntons’ CEO says: “Thorntons is a strong, trusted and highly valuable brand with excellent potential. Our goal is to refocus the business across all channels and seek to deliver industry competitive returns over the next three to five years. Although we see the prospect of weakness in High Street footfall and consumer sentiment continuing, I am confident that this strategy is right.”

Thorntons is the latest high street chain to cut store numbers. Entertainment group HMV is closing 60 stores and Mothercare recently revealed it would close 110 high street stores focus on out of town retail sites.

Fashion retailer Jane Norman fell into administration yesterday and its 90 stores ceased trading. Discount department store chain TJ Hughes is also expected to fall into administration this week.

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