National retail chain with stores in Crawley and Horsham to close all shops permanently

A national retailer with stores in Crawley and Horsham has revealed all its branches will permanently shut.

Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 10:31 am

Adam Goddard, retail director at Thorntons, said the chocolatier will shut its retail stores due to ‘severe obstacles’ the firm faces in high street trading.

In a statement released yesterday, March 15, he said: “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 business - investing over £45 million into the brand.

Horsham town centre in November 2020. Picture: Steve Robards SR2011101

“This has included an investment to open new format stores and cafes and ensuring we had stores in the right locations for our customers.”

But the changing dynamic of the high street, online shopping and the impact of lockdown and covid forced the firm to trade in the ‘most challenging circumstances’, he added.

Mr Goddard said: “Like many others, the obstacles we have faced and will continue to face on the high street are too severe and despite our best efforts we have taken the difficult decision to permanently close our retail store estate.

“We will now go into full consultation with our colleagues across our 61 Thorntons-owned stores.

“Our colleagues have been fantastic during this challenging time, and we would like to thank them for their continued support. We understand that this will be an uncertain and concerning time for our colleagues and we will actively support them during this period of consultation.”

The consultation affects around 600 roles and Mr Goddard said the firm would have to consider redundancy.

He said: “We will continue to support our colleagues with enhanced redundancy and outplacement support, including one to one career coaching.

“All impacted colleagues will also have the opportunity to apply for vacancies at our Greenford and Alfreton sites and if successful, we will provide relocation support where needed.”

As customers continue to change the way they shop, the firm must change with them, he added. Thorntons has seen a strong growth in its online presence with a 71 per cent increase in net sales over the last year and this will remain a key strategy for the company.

Mr Goddard said: “We continue to invest in building our brand in the grocery channels with our partners in order to meet the demand from our loyal customers.

“Our factory in Alfreton remains key and has recently become a Centre of Excellence for assortments. We are continuing on our journey to produce more assortment products for the international market – the first being our Golden Gallery collection now available in the USA and Canada. We also remain committed to innovating in the UK market.

“We remain committed to this iconic British brand and will continue to invest further in the future potential of Thorntons to ensure we evolve with the times.”