Godiva set to close US stores in response to the coronavirus pandemic

Premium chocolate business Godiva is reportedly is set to close all 128 of its US stores by the end of March, which has been attributed to ‘waning demand’ for physical retail amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, reports Neill Barston.

The move by the Belgian-founded luxury company, comes amid considerable pressure on global retail markets, as the impact of covid-19 continues to be felt by many economies around the world, with the US being notably hard-hit.

Confectionery Production understands that the business intends to maintain the remainder of its stores in Europe, UAE and China, but challenging conditions within the US had resulted in its decision to pull out of the region in terms of physical retailing – as its online sales increase.

It has been reported that a key element of the decision came as many of the major shopping mall facilities that had been crucial to the success of the brand within North America, have remained closed, or partially operating during the past year, which has further compounded the situation.

In a statement from the company seen by Confectionery Production, it said that it continues to pursue a growth strategy as its customer base increases, which it said was largely being driven by online sales and greater product purchasing through its grocery, club, and retail partners.

A spokesperson for Godiva said:  “Demand for the in-person shopping experience offered through Godiva’s brick & mortar locations has waned as a result of the pandemic and its acceleration of changes in consumers’ shopping behaviour.  In response to these market dynamics, Godiva will exit its 128 brick & mortar locations in North America, partially through sales and partially through closures, by the end of the first quarter in 2021. We will maintain retail operations across Europe, Middle East and Greater China in formats that reflect the unique cultural preferences of those markets.”

Just last month, the business, which is owned by Istanbul-based Yildiz Holding, named Nurtac Ziyal Afridi as its CEO, who is a board member of Godiva and chief strategy and growth officer and growth officer for Yildiz.

According to the business, she has played an instrumental role while the business transformed into a global snacking group with more than 300 brands available in over 120 countries. This included leading the acquisition of Godiva in 2008, as well as McVitie’s, Carr’s, Jacobs, and BN (United Biscuits) in 2014, among her achievements.

The retail landscape that Afridi has been tasked with responding to has been majorly impacted during the course of 2020. According to studies from Coresight Research, analysis is expected to show that between 20,000 and 25,000 stores in the US will have closed permanently during the pandemic.

As has been reported previously by Confectionery Production, there has been a corresponding growth in online sales of confectionery, with particular demand for premium snacks and chocolate, as shoppers around the world have been confined largely to home amid the covid-19 conditions, and have shown renewed interest in comfort food ranges.

Commenting on the situation, CEO Afridi said: “Our brick & 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,” says Afridi. “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.”

“Of course, this decision was difficult because of the care we have for our dedicated and hard-working chocolatiers who will be impacted. 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 & Behaviours.”




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