In September 2003 Thorntons, the Uk’s largest manufacturer and retailer of specialist chocolates, completed a three-year planning period aimed at achieving a turnaround in the company’s performance. While company turnover had been increased to £167m (= €250m) providing Thorntons with an 8 percent share of its core market, boxed chocolates, profit after tax had declined to the lowest level for seven years (Exhibit 1). During that time Thorntons had set out to follow a series of strategic initiatives involving the reorientation of the company towards becoming a retail-focused business, increasing the scale of the company’s manufacturing and retailing operations and developments that would …show more content…
Development into a public company
Thorntons was founded in 1911 by Joseph Thornton, a commercial traveller engaged in selling confectionery. Tired of travelling, he opened his own shop in the city of Sheffield. His two sons, Norman and Stanley, joined him to combine their abilities in retailing, devising recipes, and manufacture, to provide freshly-made confectionery, manufactured in the shop it was sold in.
The benefits of self-manufacture and product innovation were soon to become apparent. During the 1920s several product lines were established that have continued to the present day. In 1925 a recipe for Special Toffee, based upon cream butter and eggs, gave the business an outstanding product. The self-manufacture of Easter eggs, decorated in the shop to include names and messages, added to the range of freshly made and fresh-tasting confectionery.
In 1953 Stanley and Norman Thornton visited Switzerland to find out how Thorntons could make what was regarded as the very best of chocolates. The visit included the Basle School for Swiss Chocolatiers and the recruitment of an outstanding student, Walter Willen, who created the original recipes for Thorntons’ Continental chocolates, a range that was to become the largest-selling specialist assortment of chocolates in the UK.
Thorntons began to develop sales outside the UK and by 1982 the value of Thorntons’ exports to Europe and Australia had reached £300,000. Attracted by the prospect of further