Chocolate retailer Thorntons has announced plans to permanently shut all its 61 stores with 603 jobs impacted.
The retailer, which has a presence in the North East, said it will switch to an online-only offering, following many UK high street businesses in pivoting away from bricks-and-mortar. It has had many stores shut for key periods around Christmas and Easter.
It said it has seen sales surge online and will invest in its grocery supply business as part of the shake-up of its operation
The government had hoped to stem job losses and business restructurings with the furlough and job support schemes. But with high streets shut down for the best part of the last year due to COVID-19, many businesses have felt the strain of supporting the overheads of rent and paying staff.
Adam Goddard, retail director at Thorntons, said: “Changing dynamics of the high street, shifting customer behaviour to online, the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and the numerous lockdown restrictions over the last year – especially during our key trading periods at Easter and Christmas – has meant we have been trading in the most challenging circumstances.
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“Unfortunately 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.”
Thorntons has served the British high street since 1911 and has the largest confectionary-only parent company in Britain. The Sheffield-founded company was bought by Ferrero in June 2015 for £112m ($156m).
Yahoo Finance UK has contacted Thorntons for comment.