Luxury chocolate maker Godiva is closing or selling all 128 of its retail locations in North America amid declining in-store visits due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Over the past year, the Turkish-owned company said, demand for the in-person chocolate shopping experience offered through its brick-and-mortar locations had “waned as a result of the pandemic and its acceleration of changes in consumers’ shopping behavior.”
Many of the Godiva stores are located in shopping malls, where traffic had been declining even before the pandemic. Godiva plans to complete the closures and sales by the end of March while shifting to distribution through food, drug, and mass retail outlets, and online options.
“We are making it even easier for our consumers to enjoy Godiva, whether that’s by treating themselves or gifting, so that everyone can have access to our premium chocolate,” CEO Nurtac Afridi said in a news release.
“Godiva is already available in many retailers in North America, and we will continue to increase our presence there while always upholding the premium quality, taste, and innovation that we have been renowned for since we were founded in Brussels in 1926,” she added.
Retail operations in Europe, the Middle East, and Greater China will continue in “formats that reflect the unique cultural preferences of those markets,” Godiva said.
The North American retail exit comes less than two years after Godiva announced an ambitious plan to open 2,000 cafes around the world by 2025. The chocolatier opened its first cafe — featuring the brand’s signature Chocolixir blended drink and the Croiffle, a croissant pressed into a hot waffle — in the U.S. in New York in April 2019.
According to a CoStar report, more than 60 major U.S. retailers declared bankruptcy, and closures of more than 12,200 retail stores were announced in 2020.
Godiva did not disclose the number of employees who will lose their jobs due to the store closures. “Of course, this decision was difficult because of the care we have for our dedicated and hard-working chocolatiers who will be impacted,” Afridi said.