Thorntons to close 120 shops

Thorntons said it would close a third of its own stores over three years as tough trading continued to hit sales.

The chocolatier said it would close a minimum of 120 stores over three years at a cost of £4.2m to £4.8m.

"We will seek to secure a franchisee in the majority of locations where an own store is closed," the company said.

Thorntons had 364 own stores and 227 franchise outlets as of 25 June.

The company, which makes a growing proportion of sales online and via other retailers, also said it would look at closing up to a further 60 stores over the same period.

In May, Thorntons warned on profit for the second time in three months, blaming hot weather over the key Easter trading period for a fall in sales.

The company's shares have lost 37 per cent of their value since Thorntons issued a profit warning in February.