Q&A: Does Thorntons Franchise in the UK?

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thorntons franchise

Most of us have indulged in a tempting treat from Thorntons at some point or another. But the question on the lips of ambitious entrepreneurs with a sweet tooth might be whether you can start a Thorntons franchise in the UK. Let’s find out.


Thorntons is synonymous with the British high street and it is one of the oldest and best-loved brand names in the world of chocolate. It’s many customers’ go-to place at Christmas, Easter, birthdays and other special occasions, or if they are just in the mood to treat themselves. Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that there are now more than 3,500 chocolate lovers who work in its shops, head office and factory. So, let’s find out if you can start a Thorntons franchise in the UK.

Does Thornton’s franchise in the UK?

The great news is, yes it does! ‘Thorntons in your store’ adopts the franchise route and the brand is a full member of the British Franchise Association (BFA). ‘Thorntons in your store’ is essentially a trading relationship covered by a franchise agreement where both the franchisor and franchisee commit to working in partnership.

History of Thorntons

Thorntons has come a long way from its humble beginnings. In 1911, Joseph William Thornton opened the first chocolate shop in Sheffield and now, over 100 years later, there are hundreds of locations serving delicious delicacies around the UK.

Joseph William Thornton was a travelling confectioner. He decided to keep his job and so he left his 14-year-old son, Norman, in control of the shop. Norman was told to “make the best sweet shop in town”. And after being successful and doing a good job with the first store, another location in Sheffield opened and it’s carried on growing ever since.

Norman’s brother Stanley came into the picture a few years later and together they created a delicious chewy toffee that was adored by all the city’s steelworkers. The popular recipe is still used as the basis for its special toffee today.

After the Second World War, Walter Willen, one of the best chocolatiers in Europe, joined the business and they crafted the famous Continental collection. It operations are now run from its headquarters in Derbyshire.


Starting a Thorntons franchise unit

The most successful franchises have taken shape in card and gift shops, department stores, home-living retailers, cafés and post offices. But the most fruitful of all is the card and gift shops, because they offer products suitable for similar occasions. All of these sorts of environments lead to year-round footfall and, combined with your second-to-none customer service, customers should keep coming back for more.

Becoming a Thorntons franchisee

Prospective franchisees should be passionate about their franchise being successful but also know how to set themselves apart as a retailer. They should also be capable of following instructions on how to run the shop and be incredibly hardworking. On top of this, interested franchisees should believe in the brand and its ethos, be able to provide exceptional customer service and truly believe that they can run their own profitable business.

You should be prepared to set up a shop between 1,200 and 1,500 square feet. However, it is possible to make it work in a smaller location. That being said, there does need to be at least 65 square feet saved for a stock room.

If you are tempted by this tasty franchise opportunity then Thorntons would love to hear from you. Head to its website now, where you can find out its contact details. You can ring or email but you’ll need to have the following information handy: who you are, if you are ready to invest immediately and where you want to set up.

How much you need to invest

In order to invest in this franchise opportunity, you will need to pay a franchise fee of £1,000 for five years, which equates to only 60p a day. Inevitably, the set-up costs vary depending on the size and scale of what needs to be done. Usually, fixtures and fittings will set you back around £20,000 and this covers all of the shop fit components, apart from AC.

“Thorntons has certainly helped our business, making it a destination store for our customers. It has increased footfall, which has in turn increased our card and gift sales. Thorntons provide us with great support, including a structured plan for events and promotions. As an independent retailer, this is invaluable to keeping our business fresh and giving our customers something new to purchase.” - Maxine and Phillip Nield who have outlets in Rugeley and Nantwich


What you get for your investment

When you become a franchisee, you will receive support from a team of territory managers with sales optimisation, brand compliance, customer service, training and seasonal planning. Even after you’re all set up, communication doesn’t stop and there is also a special platform where day-to-day matters can be discussed in order to enhance sales and ensure franchisees are happy.

When it comes to finding the perfect location, Thorntons is on hand to help. Of course, you will want to set up shop in an area that is busy, with plenty of potential customers walking past. For this reason, locations on a high street and shopping centres would be a good idea. It is also wise to consider whether other well-known brands are operating in the area. The more brand representation, the better because, again, there should be more customers walking past that area.

Start a chocolate shop franchise today

If you’ve got your heart set on starting a Thorntons franchise, you can get in touch via its website and get the wheels of your franchising journey in motion. But if you’re not convinced, we have a wide range of chocolate franchise opportunites on our books. You can also browse the full range of franchise opportunites in our UK franchise directory.

>> Read more articles on the Food and Beverage sector

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