Godiva set to close all stores in US, Puerto Rico
Godiva announced it will shutter all of its 128 retail stores in North America, including the one located in Plaza Las Américas in Puerto Rico, by the end of the first quarter of 2021, accelerating a dramatic shift to online sales and through other retail partners.
Additional details such as the total number of employees affected, and the specific dates of individual store closings were not disclosed.
“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,” said in a statement Godiva CEO Nurtac Ziyal Afridi, who was named CEO by corporate owner Yildiz Holding in December of 2020.
The company attributed the sudden change to diminished demand for the in-person shopping experience offered through GODIVA’s brick & mortar locations as a result of the COVID pandemic and its corresponding acceleration of changes in consumers’ shopping behavior.
Plaza Las Américas, where Godiva’s only store in Puerto Rico is located, received news of the store’s impending closing last Friday.
“It was a surprise to us because the store had an excellent performance, but we know these are business decisions mostly caused by the impact of the pandemic,” said Empresas Fonalledas’ Director of Communications Lorraine Vissepó.
“We are deeply sorry that more people will be out of work and we hope that new opportunities will arise for not only for them but for the future use of the space,” she said.
Store employees who spoke to this media outlet said the specific closing date of the Plaza Las Américas location will depend on whether additional inventory is provided from corporate. Although the expectation is that the store will remain open through Valentine’s Day, the actual closing could happen sooner.
The announcement stands as the most recent example of an industry that has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic as a result of widespread lockdowns and government restrictions. It also signals a dramatic shift in company strategy.
Godiva says it seeks to move sales of its products beyond seasonal offerings and traditional gifting, while making them more accessible to consumers. A key part of this strategy has been the brand’s aggressive focus on Food Drug Mass (FDM) and online sales to meet what it describes as consumers’ growing demand for premium chocolate in these channels.
Before being appointed as CEO, Afridi served as a Godiva board member and Yildiz Holding’s chief strategy and growth officer.
In April 2019, the company opened its first Godiva Café in New York City as part of a bold plan to open 400 such locations throughout the Americas, with the ultimate goal of expanding to 2,000 locations worldwide.
Offering a new sweet and savory menu, specialty beverages and more, this café concept was expected be a launching pad for Godiva to expand into new product categories beyond formal chocolate gifting and into every day “self-treats.”
The addition of these offerings and the launch of the café were all part of Godiva’s larger global strategy to achieve a fivefold increase in sales by 2025.