Thorntons Earns Top Chain Honors

James Thornton, (left) founder of Thorntons Inc., and Matt Thornton, (right) president and CEO of Thorntons accept the Chain of the Year award from CSD Editor John Lofstock.

Kentucky operator presented the industry’s most prestigious retail award at a gala in Chicago.

By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor.

Convenience Store Decisions honored Louisville, Ky.-based Thorntons Inc. as its 22nd annual Convenience Store Chain of the Year at an exclusive dinner at Café Spiaggia in Chicago last month during the NACS Show.

More than 200 retail industry guests were in attendance to congratulate the family-owned c-store chain of 162 stores, which is also celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Thorntons succeeded Rutter’s Farm Stores, which earned the prestigious title, considered the gold standard in convenience retailing, in 2010. As is tradition with the Chain of the Year award, Rutter’s Farm Stores’ President and CEO Scott Hartman handed the trophy off to Thorntons’ President and CEO Matt Thornton.

Thornton spoke on his company’s Plan to Win strategy that includes focusing on being peoples’ favorite place to stop when they are on-the-go by delighting customers, training to succeed, celebrating achievements, thinking and working safely and respecting each other. “On behalf of our 2,200 awesome team members, who work hard to delight every day, we are thrilled and deeply honored to receive this prestigious award,” Thornton said. “Thank you for your interest in our team and service to our industry.”

CSDs’ Editor-in-Chief John Lofstock outlined the impressive retail culture Thorntons has created that has helped launch it from a routine stop for motorists to “a focal point for hot coffee, fresh foods and a warm smile,” and introduced a video tribute to the company. “During our due

diligence phase in selecting this year’s award winner, the one thing that stuck out both in talking with the folks from Thorntons and others in the industry is the contagious culture the company has created internally that quite literally permeates out to the customers it serves,” Lofstock said.

Hartman was gracious in handing off the award to Thorntons. “It’s hard to believe a year has passed since John MacDougall (CEO of Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, the 2009 Chain of the Year winner) handed the award to me in Atlanta. Our company appreciated and enjoyed the honor,” Hartman said. “Thorntons is a family business like ours.  I appreciate how challenging it can be for a family member who is in charge of a company that his father helped to build.  Seeing how Matt and his team are thriving is a tribute to the Thornton organization’s culture. Thorntons deserves to be added to the impressive list of worthy award winners.”

To view photos from the Chain of the Year Dinner, check out the photo album on CSD‘s Facebook page: 



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