Turkish-owned candy maker Godiva Chocolatier is eliminating its North American brick-and-mortar presence.

The company announced it plans to close or sell all of its 128 retail stores in the U.S. and Canada by the end of March as a result of the pandemic’s stranglehold on in-person sales, as well as consumer behavior trends. The closure includes locations at the Glendale Galleria, Camarillo Premium Outlets and Westfield Topanga mall in Woodland Hills.


In a statement, Chief Executive Nurtac Afridi, who took the helm in mid-December, explained: “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. 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.”


She added the decision is “difficult because of the care we have for our dedicated and hard-working chocolatiers,” but did not specify exactly how many employees will be affected.


Godiva will continue operating retail stores in Europe, China and the Middle East. Also, it will sell its products online and through other retail outlets.


Founded in 1926 in Belgium, Godiva is now owned by Turkish consumer goods conglomerate Yildiz Holding.