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Thorntons announces closure of 180 shops

As Thorntons begins the process of closing 180 stores, they continue to look for new ways to overcom

Thorntons is preparing for the closure of 180 of its chocolate shops, after warning in May that a minimum of 120 would soon shut. Company shares were down 5 per cent in London trading.

The stores closing are among Thorntons shops that are directly owned by the company.

It hopes to replace the shops closing with franchised stores "in the majority of locations". Of Thornton's 364 stores, 227 are run by franchisees.

The company is not giving up hope, but has restructuring plans in the works.

Thorntons is gearing up to expand its commercial division in an effort to sell more Thorntons-branded chocolate through supermarkets and other retailers. The company also plans to better utilise its website for sales.

"Our goal is to refocus the business across all channels, and seek to deliver industry competitive results over the next three to five years," Chief executive Jonathan Hart said. "Although we see the prospect of weakness in High Street footfall and consumer sentiment continuing, I am confident that this strategy is right."

Thorntons' predictions of continued weak trading reflects the struggle that many other retailers are facing in this economic period of low consumer spending. The most recent figures revealed that UK retail sales fell 1.4 per cent in May.