Belfast Telegraph

Thorntons to axe 180 chocolate shops and TJ Hughes eyes administration

Chocolate retailer Thorntons dealt a further blow to the high street today by announcing plans to close up to 180 stores.

The group said it will exit at least 120 outlets over the next three years as their leases expire, while it will also consider the future of an additional 60 shops over the same period.

The plan will leave Thorntons with around 180 to 200 company-owned stores, although in the majority of locations it hopes franchisees will open outlets.

It is the latest blow to the high street after the failure of chains such as Habitat and Oddbins in recent weeks.

Discount department store TJ Hughes is set to join the list of failed retailers today after it reportedly filed a notice of intention to appoint an administrator.

Chains such as HMV, Game and JJB Sports, which have long been the mainstay of UK high streets, are also slimming down their store estates. And Mothercare said recently that it would axe 110 shops in order to focus its trading on out-of-town locations.

The Thorntons strategy review, led by new chief executive Jonathan Hart, will see the company increasingly focus on its commercial division, which sells Thorntons-branded chocolate through other retailers, and grow online sales.

The review also aims to make the business less dependent on seasonal events such as Christmas and Easter by increasing the number of gifts it sells.

Mr Hart said the strategy was the right one because he sees the current weakness in high street footfall and consumer sentiment continuing.

Belfast Telegraph