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Godiva will shut all its U.S. chocolate stores by March

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Godiva, the nearly 100-year-old luxury chocolatier, is closing or selling all of it's brick-and-mortar stores in North America as part of its strategy to boost global online sales. 

It wants to reach more consumers in North America by growing its online presence, as internet sales begin to overtake in-person purchases, the company said in a statement Monday. 

Godiva also cited the COVID-19 pandemic as one factor contributing to declining sales at its 128 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S.

"In response to these market dynamics, Godiva will exit its 128 brick & mortar locations in North America, partially through sales and partially through closures, by the end of the first quarter in 2021," the company said in a statement provided to CBS MoneyWatch. 

The company will keep its overseas stores across Europe, the Middle East and China open. 

It's unclear how many workers will be laid off as a result of the store closures. Godiva, which is privately held, said it will not disclose these details. 

Godiva CEO Nurtac Afridi said the "decision was difficult because of the care we have for our dedicated and hard-working chocolatiers who will be impacted."

The move to wind down operations at more than 100 North American locations marks a 180-degree turn from a couple of years ago, when the chocolatier announced plans to open 2,000 cafes serving pastries, sandwiches, coffee and more around the world over six years. The first such shop opened in Manhattan in April 2019.

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