Thorntons has announced it is to close almost half of its UK stores.

Speaking at the chocolate retailers’ strategy review earlier this week, chief executive Jonathan Hart said it would close a minimum of 120 stores over the next three years as their leases expired, and would “explore opportunities” to close a further sixty.

Thorntons said the closures would be part of a strategy to create a chain of 180 profitable company-owned stores.

The news comes less than two months after Thorntons issued its second profit warning of the year. At the time, the company blamed the hot weather over the Easter period for poor sales.

“Thorntons is a strong, trusted and highly valuable brand with excellent potential,” Hart said. “Our goal is to refocus the business across all channels and seek to deliver industry competitive returns over the next three to five years.

“Although we see the prospect of weakness in High Street footfall and consumer sentiment continuing, I am confident that this strategy is right.”