Could Thorntons disappear from the high street?

Britain's biggest chain of chocolate shops is being munched up by Italian giant Ferrero.

by Jack Torrance
Credit: Stratford490/Wikimedia
Credit: Stratford490/Wikimedia

Another Thorntons chocolate, Mr Ambassador? Ferrero, the Italian confectionery giant known in Britain for its horrendously cheesey Ferrero Rocher ads, has agreed a deal to buy Thorntons, one of Britain's biggest chocolate brands.

Ferrero is offering 145p per share, valuing the business at around £111.9m, which sent Thorntons shares rocketing more than 40% to 144.06p this morning. The bid has echoes of Kraft’s controversial takeover of Cadbury, although the smaller size of Thornton’s means it’s unlikely to attract the same scrutiny.

£112m might seem like a low price for a business that raked in around twice that in revenues last year, but it reflects the company’s faltering performance. In the 28 weeks to 10 January it posted a dip in sales of more than 8% to £128.2m, and it’s currently looking for a new chief executive after Jonathan Hart said he would step down last month. Thorntons' brand has struggled to remain desirable amid competition from both more upmarket chocolatiers and discount retailers.

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