The decision has now been made to close all of Thorntons’ 61 shops. The shops will not reopen once the current lockdown restrictions have been lifted.

“The obstacles we have faced and will continue to face on the High Street are too severe,” said Thorntons Retail Director, Adam Goddard. “Despite our best efforts we have taken the difficult decision to permanently close our retail store estate.”

Ferrero bought the business in 2015 and has been trying to turn it around ever since. Over the last five years, it’s shrunk from 252 to 61 stores, but Ferrero speculates that the brand’s future is now online and on supermarket shelves.

Traditional retailers challenges

The pandemic has created brutal trading conditions for so many traditional retailers, and the high street shakeout is still far from over. The company, which was founded in Sheffield in 1911, said it would continue to sell its chocolate online and try to sell more through supermarkets.

Since the beginning of the crisis, it said sales through its website have increased by more than 70% compared to the previous year. It will also try to expand the range of products made at its factory in Alfreton and increase international sales.

In a statement from Ferrero who bought the chocolate chain for £112m, the company said: “We remain committed to this iconic British brand and will continue to invest further in the future potential of Thorntons to ensure we evolve with the times.”