Thorntons Franchise - What’s Involved?

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thorntons franchise invovled

Thorntons is synonymous with the British high street and it is one of the oldest and most-loved brand names we associate with 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.


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. The headquarters are in Derbyshire and there are now more than 3,500 chocolate lovers who work in its shops, head office and factory.

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Thorntons Franchise

‘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.

The most successful franchises have taken shape in card and gift shops, department stores, home-living environments, cafés and post offices. But the most fruitful of all is the card and gift shops, because of them offering products suitable for similar occasions. All of these sorts of environments create an all-year-round footfall and, combined with your second-to-none customer service, customers should keep coming back for more. Thorntons predicts that sales would range from £80,000 to over £250,000.

Order and Delivery

Thorntons can boast the title of the largest chocolate maker in Britain, and all of its warehouse operations take place at Thornton Park in Derbyshire and its distribution centre nearby. Orders are placed on the phone then processed, picked, dispatched and delivered within two working days (for mainland deliveries). Thorntons distribute to its retail estate from the Langley Mill distribution centre. Franchisees can order and receive deliveries on a set day because of Thorntons’ fixed delivery schedule.

Setting Up Shop

Finding the most suitable location for your business is a very important decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Thorntons has detailed the sort of things you need to look out for - if you have decided on the town or area, then start looking at what’s available. 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 that other brands are operating in the area. The more brand representation, the better because, again, there should be more customers walking past that area. At the same time, you might not want to choose a location that already has lots of other chocolate shops; for example, Hotel Chocolat and Lindt.

The size should ideally be 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.

What support will I receive?

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.

Who is the perfect Thorntons franchisee?

Prospective franchisees should be passionate about their franchise being successful but can also 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.

The Investment

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.


Maxine and Phillip Nield who have outlets in Rugeley and Nantwich say that:

“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.”

How do I apply?

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


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