Struggling British chocolate company Thorntons is to be bought by Italian group Ferrero for £112 million.

Thorntons has urged its shareholders to back Ferrero’s cash offer of 145p a share. The offer saw Thorntons’ share price jump by 42% on Monday.

Italian chocolate maker Ferrero is best known for its product Ferrero Rocher, famous for its TV adverts in which guests at a swish party say: ‘Ambassador, you are spoiling us.’

Ferrero is also the company behind Nutella, Kinder Eggs and Tic Tac sweets.

Thorntons issued a profit warning at the end of last year amid poor sales, which fell by 8% to £128 million in the second half of 2014.

Thorntons chairman Paul Wilkinson said: “Ferrero is a successful global confectionery business with a strong family heritage and as such represents a good cultural fit for Thorntons.

“The board of Thorntons therefore has given its unanimous recommendation for the offer from Ferrero.”

Ferrero chief executive Giovanni Ferrero explained the reasons behind the offer, saying: “We delivered our best ever results in the UK in 2014, giving us confidence that now is the right time to broaden our roots in this important market.”

Thorntons was established in Sheffield in 1911 and has 242 shops in the UK and Ireland, as well as 158 franchise outlets. The company employs about 3,500 staff.

Ferrero, meanwhile, announced sales of £6 billion in the year up to August 2014 and employs 27,000 people.


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