Thorntons has been part of the UK retail footprint for over a century. Up and down the country, our staff are passionate about delivering our quality products to our valued customers, and we are proud of the steps we are taking to ensure we continue to service our community of Thorntons chocolate lovers.
Since the beginning of COVID, the health and safety of our colleagues and customers has been our number one priority. In March, we voluntarily closed our Thorntons Stores in advance of Government direction. Since then three million customers have visited our website www.thorntons.co.uk – where we also introduced contact-free home delivery.
Similarly, in June, when we began re-opening our stores and cafes, we introduced a number of safety measures to ensure the wellbeing of our staff and customers. We re-opened our stores and cafes in a phased approach to enable us to continuously assess our measures and ensure safety for all.
Re-opening our stores and cafes
Following a successful phased relaunch across June and July we have now re-opened all our stores and cafes. A full list of re-opened stores, along with franchise stores, can be found in our store locator.
Our stores have opened in line with guidance from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Union of Shops, Distributions & Allied workers (USDAW), which we have used to help create a safe experience for everyone.
We will continue to review and assess our safety measures learning from our colleagues, franchisees, and customers while we re-adjust to the new procedures in place to help keep everyone safe.
Our cross-functional team have looked at how best to help create a safe experience for everyone in our stores and there are a number of new measures in place to ensure the safety of customers and colleagues, these include:
- Additional training for all our colleagues ahead of re-opening including handwashing, sanitising and cleaning practices of all touch points
- Communication with customers prior to entering the store through a hosting role at the store entrance
- New safety measures throughout the store - including social distancing, limitation of customer numbers in store & contactless payment
- New pre and instore point of sale supporting social distancing – including floor markers to clearly indicate 2 metre distancing and where possible one-way direction indicators
- Screens setup at tills to protect colleagues and customers; with the provision of hand sanitiser in high traffic areas for use by all
- Upweighted frequency of cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces – using the recommended standard cleaning products
- Provision of protective equipment for our colleagues including masks and gloves
- Amendment to store offer in line with guidance, including removal of demonstrations and sampling
- Strict adherence by all our colleagues regarding self-isolation protocols with paid absence in line with governmental guidelines
Alongside this, we have also introduced safety measures at our Thorntons cafes in line with the latest Government guidelines. These include:
- Thorntons cafes in Scotland will close at 6pm and our Thorntons Cafes in England will close up until 9pm.
- All our Thorntons cafes in England are offering table service.
- We have added NHS test and trace posters across our cafes in England with clear directions on how customers should participate in the process.
- Our staff have been wearing mandatory face masks since re-opening across the summer. Customers who refuse to wear a mask or to complete the test and trace process will be refused entry unless they are exempt from doing so.
- Groups larger than six will also be refused entry from all our cafes.
We continue to closely follow the government’s advice and will adapt safety measures accordingly.
Changes to our retail estate
We continue to be committed to transforming and growing the much loved and iconic Thorntons brand and have invested significantly to develop the business since 2015.
Like many other high-street brands, we have been operating in a tough and challenging external environment. This is due to changing customer habits, the decline of the high street and more recently, the impact of COVID-19. We must ensure we have a store estate that meets the changing customer needs and operates as a commercially viable retail business.
As a retailer that has been part of the UK retail footprint for over a century, we continuously review our store estate, store locations and our infrastructure to ensure it is fit for current and future customers. This includes reviewing a variety of different store variables such as formats, locations, refurbishments and where necessary closures.
As a result of our most recent store estate review and our re-opening strategy, we have taken the difficult decision not to re-open 23 of our stores.
This decision was not taken lightly, and we understand that this will be an uncertain and concerning time for our colleagues in these stores.
We will actively support all of our colleagues who are affected through individual consultations. We accept that we may have to consider redundancy and here we will continue to support with enhanced redundancy.
We believe these changes are vital as we continue to focus on ensuring our estate is sustainable for the long term. Our strategy continues to focus on being in the locations that meet our customer needs, connecting with our customers through trialing new approaches, which is an important and vital part of bringing our brand to life.
As part of this strategy, we have successfully launched seven conversions in locations including Derby, Uxbridge, Nottingham, Dalton Park, Liverpool, Birmingham and most recently a new premium café store format located in Belfast. These new formats, in the right locations, have shown strong results in growth and customer appraisal. This approach will continue to be our focus moving forward.
Although these are challenging times for a retail business, we are confident in the opportunities that lie ahead. We believe all these steps will help us secure the future of the much-loved Thorntons brand on the high street.
These are hard times and we will continue to follow the advice of government, understand how we can support our industry, and most importantly support and protect our colleagues during the constant evolution of this situation.
We would like to thank our wonderful colleagues for their hard work and understanding during this challenging time, as well as our customers and suppliers for their ongoing support.
We look forward to continuing to welcome you back in our stores and cafes in a COVID safe environment.