Specialist chocolate retailer Thorntons has launched a new concept store in a bid to modernise its image. The trial store, which opened this week in Kingston-upon-Thames, aims to create a more “foodie” environment, according to CEO Mike Davies.

It features a large deli counter to display products, including Thorntons’ new range of ice cream sticks, and an in-store chocolatier who makes bespoke, hand-made chocolates. The retailer has also turned its back on its brown and beige colour scheme by using raspberry reds and mint greens to make the store feel more fresh, modern and contemporary.

Four further trial stores are set to open in Reading, Bluewater, Nottingham and Edinburgh and Thorntons will evaluate their performance after Christmas. If successful, the format will be rolled out across the estate.

“We’ve been working hard on product innovation, but we also want to improve the in-store environment,” said Davies. “We want to make our stores foodie and modern, and this concept has proved popular in our research.” Although the retail environment was “not easy”, Davies said consumers were still turning to chocolate for a treat or for a gift. 

“We have recorded seven quarters of growth and our strategy for stores and product innovation has been a success.” 

The new concept places a great emphasis on the actual chocolates rather than the range of gift boxes.