THE Thorntons store in St Ives has been crowned the Thorntons Franchisee of the Year for 2010, beating competition from more than 200 other outlets. Just Cards and Thorntons, on Bridge Street, was named the winner at the Thorntons Annual Franchise Conference at Loughborough University. Kirsty Pettitt, Thorntons head of franchise, said: Since 2004, Tom and Maureen OConnell have worked tirelessly to ensure they operate their St Ives store to the optimum level. Their consistently excellent store standards, coupled with their appreciation of the need for continual development, have proved highly successful. They have driven strong sales growth for many years and have managed to continue that success even during the recent recession. They are an inspiration to other retailers. Mr OConnell said: Were delighted to accept this prestigious accolade on behalf of our staff, and to be recognised as the best is praise indeed. We also won the Best Store Standards category and, in the current challenging environment, good news and a big pat on the back are very welcome. Obviously none of this would be possible without our many loyal customers, to whom we are eternally grateful.