Thorntons chocolate store in Craigavon’s Rushmere Shopping Centre is to close permanently.
The chocolatier confirmed that all 61 of its UK branches would close on Monday, putting more than 600 jobs at risk.
It’s the latest blow for the high street – and the Co Armagh shopping centre – following high profile losses in recent months, most notably Debenhams and Topshop.
The company has blamed Covid for the downturn in footfall to their brick and mortar stores.
A Thorntons spokesperson said: “Like many companies, we have been operating for a long time in a tough and challenging retail environment.
“We have been committed to transforming and growing a successful Thorntons retail estate; this has included significant investments to open new format stores and cafes and ensuring we had stores in the right locations.
“However, changing dynamics of the high street, shifting customer behaviour to online, the ongoing impact of Covid-19 and the numerous lockdown restrictions over the last year – especially during our key trading periods at Easter and Christmas – has meant we have been operating in the most challenging circumstances.
“Unfortunately like many other retailers, the obstacles we have faced and will continue to face on the high street are too severe.
“Despite our best efforts we have taken the difficult decision to go into full consultation to start the permanent closure of our retail store estate. We understand that this will be an uncertain and concerning time for our colleagues and we will actively support them during this period.”
The company said there has been strong growth with online sales and as customers continued to change the way they shop “we must change with them”.
Online sales, the company confirmed, “will remain a key focus for us in continuing to provide you with your favourite Thorntons ranges, including our unique personalisation offering”.