Thorntons seeks ‘mmm factor’

Traditional British chocolate and toffee manufacturer Thorntons is planning a wide-ranging redesign of its high street stores, including rethinking its brand offering and café concept.

Traditional British chocolate and toffee manufacturer Thorntons is planning a wide-ranging redesign of its high street stores, including rethinking its brand offering and café concept.

It is planning to focus more on gifts and is seeking to capitalise on other chocolate-giving occasions in the calendar, aside from Christmas, Easter, Mothering Sunday and St Valentine’s Day.

Plans for approaching interior design consultancies are at an early stage, but Thorntons’ in-house design team is already considering how best to move the project forward, says Thorntons chief executive Peter Burdon.

The aim of redesigning the interiors is to create a more sensual environment and to display the gift products more effectively. This follows research that shows chocolate-as-gifts is Thorntons’ key area of business, above the buying of chocolate as a personal treat or for the family to share.

The look of the stores will reflect Thorntons’ shift of emphasis. Burdon adds, “The stores currently lack the ‘mmm factor’.”

The confectionery group is rolling out its Café Thorntons coffee bars to around 50 locations, two of which are scheduled to open in the summer. Burdon declines to name the sites.

He says Thorntons may approach design groups to redesign the cafés, as it is “stepping back to take a look at the concept and how it is working”. Thorntons will try to attract a younger audience without alienating its “female, 30-plus, Daily Mail-reading” existing audience.

Thorntons is also considering selling its chocolate through supermarkets and licensing the brand to products such as biscuits and ice-cream. According to Burdon, it plans to repackage its ice-creams into multi-pack offerings, which will be designed in-house.

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