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Belgian chocolatier in expansion mode in China

Caribbean News.Net - Tuesday 12th June, 2012

NEW YORK Luxury Belgian chocolate maker Godiva is banking on the growing Chinese market for chocolates and plans to double its boutique network in China.

The 86-year-old chocolatier which has 15 shops in China is set to open about 15 more shops.

Chief Executive Officer Jim Goldman, speaking at the Chocovision conference in Davos, Switzerland, said Godiva may have 100 Chinese stores in three to four years, Bloomberg quoted him as saying.

"China is less than 5 per cent of our revenue, but it's the fastest-growing piece of the puzzle," Goldman said. "Over time, we'll be in the hundreds of stores in China, but we also know that the Chinese use the Internet and the commercial aspect of the Internet is becoming more of a factor."

Godiva, which was bought by Turkey's Yildiz Holding for $850 million, will have sites in 10 Chinese cities by the end of 2012, Goldman said.

Godiva plans to deliver online orders of chocolate and other confectionery by van in Shanghai, where the company runs a cafe that sells baked goods and wine too, Goldman said. Chinese consumers are opting for dark chocolate, partly due to its healthier image, he said.

Chocolates for gift-giving, particularly around key holidays such as the Chinese New Year, would also contribute to sales, Goldman said.

To cater to local tastes, Godiva is introducing dragon-themed chocolates for the current Chinese zodiac year and also its own twist on moon cakes traditionally given during the Mid-Autumn Festival, Goldman said, according to Bloomberg.

Consumers in China spent about $1.1 billion on chocolate last year, and the market is set to have annual growth of 11 per cent from 2010 to 2014, market researcher Mintel says.

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