Tell us about your Middle East operations.
We have a fantastic range of Thorntons chocolates in Dubai International Airport, including our family favourites Moments, praline Melts and the ever popular Classic Collection and Dark Collection boxes. We have seen more than 75 per cent growth year-to-date in Dubai, which is fantastic, so we plan on rolling out our growth plans for the Middle East and Africa over the course of the next year.
Tell us about the history of your company.
Thorntons is Britain’s largest chocolate maker and last year we celebrated 100 years of bringing delicious chocolate to the nation. Thorntons very first shop was opened in Sheffield by travelling confectioner Joseph William Thornton in October 1911, who then handed the keys to his teenage sons, Norman and Stanley, and said: “Make this the best sweet shop in town!” Well, they didn’t do a bad job, did they?
Define your target customer.
Our chocolate range has something for all the family and makes the perfect gift to bring loved ones from your holiday or business trip. Thorntons fans just love our delicious, great tasting British chocolate.
In terms of revenue, how is your company doing so far in Q2 compared to 2011?
For our international business, we are currently in 21 per cent growth and fully expect this to continue as we develop our new international strategy which will see us focusing on our key markets.
For travel retail what kind of ‘gifting’ products do you sell? Are any of them or other products sold specifically for this region? What are your bestselling products?
We have a great range of chocolate gifts, perfect for any occasion and at varying price points that customers can afford. Our family favourites Moments box is our bestselling product in Dubai Duty Free and with six different flavours to choose from it is ideal for sharing. If you’re looking for a chocolate gift box then Thorntons Classic Collection is perfect and comes in two sizes — 274g and 587g. It is the number one boxed chocolate brand in the UK and is a selection of those classic British favourites that everyone loves such as caramel, fudge and toffee. Once you’ve tasted the chocolates, it’s easy to see why it’s so popular. Neither boxes contain any alcohol and are both suitable for vegetarians.
Are you launching any new products this year for TFWA Cannes?
We are hoping to extend our range within Dubai Duty Free this year but don’t have any plans to launch any products at Cannes.
What is the biggest area of your business?
Thorntons chocolates are currently available in over 20 countries globally. World wide travel retail is our biggest market and we will continue to explore opportunities in this area. We are in the process of developing our international strategy and have spent time investigating various international markets where we think the Thorntons brand can thrive and there is a real demand for great British chocolate. The Middle East and Africa are certainly key markets for us.
What makes Thorntons different to its competitors?
Thorntons is a much loved, trusted British brand with fantastic heritage and importantly fantastic quality chocolates. Our chocolates make a great gift for any occasion and put a smile on people’s faces. We try and make our chocolates suitable for as many chocolate lovers as possible, for example we have a no added sugar range, many of our chocolates are alcohol-free and suitable for vegetarians.
How important is ‘branding’ to your company? Please explain.
When chocolate fans see the Thorntons brand, they know it stands for great quality chocolate, made in Britain. The Thorntons name has been loved by the Great British public for over 100 years. We are a trusted brand and many of our customers just love to tell us what their favourite chocolates are as many have become so famous over the years.
What criteria is on your ‘wish list’ when it comes to airport confectionery design/layout for your products?
Boxed Chocolates are what Thorntons is famous for, and based on research the Thorntons brand and indeed other premium brands perform best when their products are grouped together, effectively using premium brand names to act as a signpost for the category, drawing shoppers to the display. This research tells us that when shoppers are looking for a special gift, the brand they wish to choose appears at the top of their decision hierarchy, hence a key reason to display individual brand’s products together to make the choice for shoppers much easier. Chocolate is a highly emotive category so impactful displays can add further quality to the look of the range and can create great theatre for shoppers.