Godiva, the Belgian chocolate brand, plans to double its China network, taking its store count to 30 in the next three years.
Godiva, whose biggest markets are the US and Japan, hopes to carve a larger niche in China’s chocolate industry with 15 stores to be added in the next three years.
“Over time, we’ll be in 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,” said CEO Jim Goldman, who also said that China accounts less than five per cent of the company’s total revenue.
Apart from stores, Godiva also operates cafes where wine and baked goods are sold and sells its products online in some parts of China.
Godiva will be in tight competition with American brand Mars which holds 43 per cent of China’s chocolate industry, Italian brand Ferrero which holds eight per cent and local Chinese brand Le Conte holding six per cent.
Market researcher Mintel forecasts that Chinese spending on chocolates will grow by 11 per cent between 2010 to 2014. Last year, spending topped US$1.1 billion on chocolate.
Godiva, whose products include truffles and fancy chocolates and gourmet coffees, caters to the local tastes to boost the brand’s appeal among Chinese. It creates dragon-themed chocolates during Chinese New Year and moon cakes during Mid-Autumn Festival.
“Godiva has always been a premium brand and it’s something very appealing given Chinese sensibility about gift-giving and appearance,” said Marcia Mogelonsky, an analyst at Mintel.
Chinese expansion will help Godiva stay ahead of European competitors which mostly sell products through grocery outlets only.
“We’re starting to see some of the more well-known European brands with one or two stores. We’re leading the way and just need to stay ahead,” Goodman said.