NEW YORK — Less than two years after announcing an ambitious plan to open 2,000 cafes around the world by 2025, Godiva Chocolatier on Jan. 20 is reversing course, saying it will exit its 128 brick-and-mortar locations in North America, partially through sales and partially through closings, by the end of the first quarter in 2021.
Godiva opened its first cafe concept in New York City on April 18, 2019, and over the next year opened dozens more. The cafe’s menu includes a variety of baked foods, including Belgian liege waffles and chocolate-inspired cookies. One of the cafe’s signature items is the Croiffle, which is a buttery croissant pressed in a hot waffle iron. In addition to cafes, the closings in North America include all the company’s retail boutiques.
But over the past year Godiva said demand for the in-person shopping experience offered through its brick-and-mortar locations has waned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and its acceleration of changes in consumers’ shopping behavior.
“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,” said Nurtac Afridi, chief executive officer. “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 hardworking 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 and behaviors.”
While Godiva is exiting its brick-and-mortar locations in North America, the company remains committed to the region, Ms. Afridi said. The company has shifted its focus to food, drug and mass (FDM) retail outlets and online options to meet consumers’ growing demand for premium chocolate in these channels.
“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,” Ms. 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.”
Godiva said it will maintain retail operations across Europe, Middle East and Greater China in formats that reflect the unique cultural preferences of those markets.