Chocolate maker Thorntons has announced it is to close all 61 of its UK stores, placing over 600 jobs at risk.
Announcing the decision on its website, it said the decision comes as it has been “operating for a long time in a tough and challenging retail environment”.
It cited the “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” as the main challenges to its trading.
It said: “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.”
The company, which was founded in Sheffield in 1911, was acquired by Italian firm Ferrero in 2015. Since then the company had seen its store estate reduced from 252 to 61 as its new owners looked to implement a turnaround strategy in the face of increased competition on the high street.
It added that it will continue to trade online and in it concessions in supermarkets.
It concluded: “As customers continue to change the way they shop, we must change with them. We have seen a strong growth in Thorntons.co.uk 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.”