Thorntons to close up to half its stores…

July 1, 2011

The Retail Inspector – Hardware

Thorntons, the widely popular chocolate retailer announced earlier this week that there are plans to close up to half of its 364 stores, which will put around 1,100 jobs at risk.

In the past 14 months, Thorntons have had four profit warnings and have said that they will close 120 stores, potentially rising to 180, over the next three years.

Besides the fact that this is almost a 50pc cut in stores, Thorntons have said that they would still leave a “sustainable and profitable” core of 180 to 200 own shops.

The rest of the business will be refocused on its sales via supermarkets, the internet and its 227 franchised outlets – with plans to add more of the latter.

Thorntons have become the most recent victim to a struggling high street, Jonathon Hart, chief executive as of January, explained that: “We are seeing a number of locations where there’s a high level of distress in terms of vacancies.

“I don’t think the high street is dead but it is going through a period of stress. It will need to adjust its prices, including rental prices, in line with demand.”

Mr Hart continued to state that the majority of closures would be “small high street stores” and those in “convenience shopping centres”.

The real downside to this story is the cull in jobs, unfortunately as many as 1,100 jobs are at risk. Mr Hart explains that closing 120 jobs will see “500 to 750” job losses with a potential “350 to 400” further job losses should a further 60 shops shut down.

The closures come as an attempt to save on unnecessary expenditure, closing 120 stores will cost between £4.2m to £4.8m, saving the chocolate retailer more than 2m a year by 2012/13.

I reported earlier this week on the action taken by Starbucks to increase awareness on calorie intake and healthy living, whilst there’s no direct link here – the decline in sales and subsequent action taken is evident of consumer cutback on luxury treats in favour of a healthier living.

In other news…

Mumsnet, the influential parenting website, has taken on the Premier Legaue this week, accusing football clubs of charging “rip-off” prices for children’s replica football kits.

The website is in essence a forum for parents to find advice and express their grievances, their latest assault is on the high-prices charged by Priemership clubs for children’s kits.

The average price for a shirt, shorts and pair of socks is £57.54 for an eight-year-old child, with seven clubs charging £60 or more and Aston Villa and Manchester City both charging an unreasonable £63.

Considering most clubs now change their kit every season, and a child will grow out of a kit within a year anyway, the price does seem pretty extortionate.

It’s been a long standing complaint amongst fans, with season ticket prices rising by a staggering amount each year, the cost of supporting a football club is becoming more and more unreasonable.

The question has long been asked, are roof-raising prices ruining the beautiful game or is it simply just a matter of meeting requirements?