The Chocolate Life

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From an article in the Financial Times

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.

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It will be interesting to see if the Australian stores close too. Given the poor service, poor quality food and high prices (in the Australian stores that I have been to), I would not be surprised to see them follow their US counterparts.
What I like about Lindt is not so much their boutiques but the availability of their dark bars. It's GOOD to be able to get them at a grocery store or Wal-mart or Target. But here's what I really want: SPRUNGLI! These are the artisan boutiques from the same company in Swizerland that feature really beautiful and really delicious bon bons and pastries. The classics, the innovation, the frills, the quality. We need more of that good stuff in the good ole USA.
I was always surprised they had so many retail stores as well as stores in outlet malls. I'm not surprised they're closing! Lindt is a lot more prolific now than it used to be, as the article mentions.

I think the real problem is brand confusion. The presence of Lindt stores in locations like 5th Avenue in New York City imply an upscale brand - as does the advertising.

But on Unrwapped they showed them making millions of those vile Lindor truffles - a day. And then you can bu Lindt bars in most every bodega and in places like WalMart. And I think that most people are confused by this because they know that real upscale brands aren't that cheap.

Valrhona had the same problem when they started selling bars in Trader Joe's at a steep discount. One of the reasons there is new packaging is to distance the new product - especially the origin bars - from what's being sold in TJ's. So while some Valrhona chocolates will be available in TJ's it's only one or two blends and they'll have the old packaging.


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