January 26, 2021
Godiva Chocolatier plans to close or sell each of its North American stores by the end of March and instead shift its focus to online sales and retail partners.
The 128 affected locations include stores in the King of Prussia and Liberty Place malls. Locations at the Christiana Mall in Newark, Delaware and the Quaker Bridge Mall in Lawrence, New Jersey also will be eliminated.
The company's locations in China, Europe and the Middle East will remain open, Retail Wire reported.
Chief Executive Officer Nurtac Afridi said in-person shopping has waned because of the COVID-19.
"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," Afridi told TODAY. "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."
Godiva products still will be available online and at retail partners like CVS, Target and grocery stores.
The company did not say how many employees would be impacted by these closures.
"This decision was difficult because of the care we have for our dedicated and hard-working chocolatiers who will be impacted," Afridi 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."
In 2019, the chocolatier announced plans to open 2,000 cafés around the world within six years, including seven in the U.S.
In-person shopping has declined sharply during the pandemic. Some stores reported that in-person traffic on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, declined by as much as 50%, The New York Times reported. Online shopping has stayed strong and went up 4% over the holidays.
Godiva is the latest chain to announce full or partial store closures amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, Macy's announced it would close 45 stores in response to increased online shopping. Last August, Pizza Hut announced 300 store closures and IHOP closed 100 locations.