Godiva Is Closing All Of Its US Stores. Here's Why

Lagging retail and restaurant sales accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on retail and foodservice businesses in the United States. The latest business casualty is Godiva Chocolatier, which is closing its retail shops in North America, including 117 stores in the United States and 11 in Canada. The company's stores will shutter, and all real estate will be sold, by late March 2021, according to CNN.

"Demand for the in-person shopping experience offered through GODIVA's brick and mortar locations has waned as a result of the pandemic and its acceleration of changes in consumers' shopping behavior," the company, owned by Turkey-based Yildiz Holding, said in an emailed statement to TODAY Food (via NBCDFW).

According to CNN, Godiva retail stores in Europe, the Middle East, and China will remain open.

In 2019, Godiva announced plans to open a chain of cafes serving beverages and baked goods made with its signature chocolate, according to Food Business. A test concept opened in New York City, followed by a handful of additional cafes on the east coast. The company announced plans to open 2,000 of the shops around the world by 2025, including 400 in the US, according to CNN. Those US plans are now on hold.

Godiva retail employees will lose jobs

Godiva Chocolatier did not indicate how many jobs will be eliminated with the closing of its 128 North American retail stores in early 2021. In a statement obtained by Food Business, Nurtac Afridi, chief executive officer, said the company regrets the job losses that will result from the closures: "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," she said.

The company statement regarding the closures indicated that Godiva will continue to sell its chocolate in the U.S. through its retail partners, such as grocery stores, and online, according to TODAY Food

According to the company, Godiva traces its history to 1926, when candy maker Pierre Draps Sr. began making pralines, a delicious mixture of sugar and nuts, at his store in Brussels, Belgium. Draps' sons Joseph, Francois, and Pierre Jr., took over the business after the founder's death, and in 1946, they debuted their signature chocolate truffle filled with dark chocolate mousse and dusted with cocoa powder. Godiva's foray into retail began in the early 1970s with high-profile chocolate shops in Paris, on Fifth Avenue in New York City, and inside Tokyo luxury department store Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi.