Thorntons takes on Mars with new product launch

Thorntons, the struggling upmarket confectionery manufacturer, is launching a mainstream product to rival Mars Celebrations and Cadbury’s Miniature Heroes.

The confectionery company is developing the product and hopes to begin trials before Christmas.

The initiative is part of a drive by Thorntons to create a new image for its stores through family-focused advertising.

The company has increased its annual marketing spend from &£5m in 1998 to &£8m this year.

New TV and press ads through Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/ Y&R are designed to appeal to families rather than Thorntons’ current target market of 25- to 55-year-old women.

Marketing director Helen Wilcox, who took up her post in January, will lead the drive.

The company this week announced a 7.5 per cent increase in sales to &£94.3m for the six months to January 8. But it was “disappointed” with a fall in profits from &£12.1m to &£10.1m over the same period.

Thorntons finance director Martin Allen says: “Our customers see us as a shop for special occasions, such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day. We want to show them we have much more to offer on a day-to-day basis.

“We hope to increase our share of the impulse market. We’re looking to put a new product into a market dominated by Celebrations and Heroes.”

Thorntons chief executive Roger Paffard recently quit the company by mutual consent after the company was forced to issue a profit warning.

Paffard’s duties are being carried out by chairman John Thornton until a replacement is found.