The chocolate maker Thorntons is to shut all 61 of its chocolate shops for good, including the Brighton branch in Churchill Square Shopping Centre.
The closures will put more than 600 jobs at risk as the firm focuses on an online presence in future.
It will also look to distribute its goods through the supermarket chains and other retailers.
The coronavirus restrictions and, in particular, the lockdown closures have eaten away at the company’s income, notably the key Christmas and Easter trading periods.
Stores have also been shut during the traditionally busy build up to Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
Online sales have, however, risen by just over 70 per cent.
Ten years ago, the company had more than 360 shops, including in George Street, Hove.
But it shut half of its branches in one go after a strategic review before others closed in dribs and drabs.
In 2015 the company – which was founded in Sheffield in 1911 – was bought by Ferrero, the Italian business, for £112 million.
Since then, more than £45 million is reported to have been invested in the chain but the cost of the covid rules has taken its toll and claimed another high street chain.
Thorntons 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 cafés and ensuring we had stores in the right locations.
“However, the 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 – have 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.
“As customers continue to change the way they shop, we must change with them. We have seen a strong growth in Thorntons.co.uk and this will remain a key focus for us in continuing to provide you with your favourite Thorntons ranges, including our unique personalisation offering.
“In addition, we continue to invest in building our brand in grocery channels with our partners in order to meet the demand from you, our loyal customers.
“We remain committed to our iconic Thorntons brand and will continue to invest further in the future potential to ensure we evolve with the times.”
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