Chocolatier Godiva announced that it will either close or sell all of its 128 U.S. stores by the end of Q1.
Godiva attributed the change to sinking in-person demand during the COVID pandemic, and a growing shift to online sales and grocery, club, and retail partners.
“Our brick and mortar locations in North America have had a clear purpose since we first opened our doors in this market—to provide an in-person experience for consumers to enjoy the world’s most exquisite chocolates,” Godiva CEO Nurtac Afridi said in a statement. “We have always been focused on what our consumers need and how they want to experience our brand, which is why we have made this decision.”
The brand will keep brick-and-mortar locations in Europe, the Middle East, and China. Those stores will be “in formats that reflect the unique cultural preferences of those markets.”
The brand didn’t disclose how many employees will be affected by the transactions.
“This decision was difficult because of the care we have for our dedicated and hard-working chocolatiers who will be impacted,” she said. “We are grateful for all they have done to make wonderful moments for our consumers and spread happiness through incredible customer service and living our values and behaviors.”
The announcement comes nearly two years after the brand debuted its café concept in New York City in April 2019. At the time, Godiva referred to the move as a “launching pad for GODIVA to expand into new product categories beyond formal chocolate gifting into every day self-treats.” The long-term plan was to open 10 more stores in New York by the end of 2019 and expand to 2,000 stores worldwide and 400 in the Americas.
Afridi was named CEO in December after two months as the interim leader. In that time, she and the leadership team developed a three-year strategy to “seize new opportunities through Godiva’s dynamic omnichannel structure.” Godiva said her appointment coincided with the company’s goal to widen its audience and adjust to changes in consumer behavior.
“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,” Afridi said. “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.”