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Godiva sells Japan, South Korea businesses

Belgian chocolatier Godiva has sold select assets to MBK Partners as part of a global strategy to grow the business fivefold.

Under the terms of the transaction, MBK will purchase the retail and distribution operations in four of Godiva’s more than 100 markets: Japan, South Korea, Australia and the future rights to develop New Zealand.

The transaction, anticipated to close mid year, includes consumer packaged goods (CPG), digital commerce, travel retail (for Japan and South Korea) and more than 300 retail stores, as well as the Godiva production facility in Brussels that supplies product to these markets. All remaining 100-plus markets will continue to be owned and operated by Godiva.

While the terms of the deal were not disclosed and completion is conditional on the necessary approvals, once settled Godiva Chocolatier will retain exclusive brand ownership in all global markets, granting a perpetual license to MBK Partners. Godiva will continue to source its products from the Belgian facility together with the production facility it owns in the US, and its affiliate facilities in Istanbul, Turkey.

“Since 2008, we have been very pleased with the performance of Godiva, having nearly doubled its revenue and the number of stores operating globally, and we continue to see tremendous upside for this brand moving forward,” said Murat Ulker, chairman of Godiva’s owner Yildiz Holding.

“Realising the potential ahead, together with Godiva leadership, we conducted a strategic review to explore new ways for generating the necessary cash flow to fuel the robust growth. This transaction is an ideal solution that provides the momentum to fuel expansion in other high potential areas of our portfolio.”

“We believe this deal is a win-win for everyone,” added Godiva CEO Annie Young-Scrivner. “It gives us the financial flexibility we need to execute our fivefold growth strategy by accelerating efforts in new and existing markets and supporting the plan of opening of more than 2000 cafes globally, while preserving our Belgian legacy, quality, and craftsmanship that have helped to make our brand iconic.”

Among Godiva’s various markets, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand collectively have some of the strongest brand equity and include more than 300 retail stores, making these regions the most compelling areas for monetisation. In Japan, Godiva has almost 90 per cent aided brand awareness and is the number one retail brand in the country, with the highest premium time spent in stores, according to 2017 research by the Nikkei Marketing Journal.

At the same time, Yildiz sees significant unrealised opportunity for the brand that, when coupled with the infusion of capital, infrastructure and capabilities from MBK Partners, is expected to deliver a strong return on investment.

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