Lindt & Sprüngli, the Swiss maker of chocolate truffle balls and Easter bunnies wrapped in gold foil, is to close nearly two-thirds of its retail boutiques in the US as people switch from its fancy chocolates to cheaper brands. Lindt’s gloomy forecast contrasts with more upbeat outlooks by mass-market chocolate manufacturers such as Nestlé and Cadbury, both of which have reported rising sales for mainstream brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk and Kit Kat in recent months.
To save money, the company – which also owns the Ghirardelli brand – is to shut 50 of its 80 US retail boutiques, concentrating on boutiques in shopping malls. It first started exporting chocolate to the US in 1987 and began opening its own stores in 1994 to raise awareness of its brand.
Lindt said it no longer needed the boutiques because most of its US sales were now made through well-known retailers such as Wal-Mart, Costco, Target and Walgreens, and because shoppers were unwilling to pay the higher prices charged at its own stores.