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Godiva names former Nike executive as president to boost sales

by Ohio Digital News

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Dive Brief:

  • Chocolate maker Godiva appointed Steve Lesnard as its president starting May 1, the brand’s owner Pladis said in a statement. Pladis also owns confectionary products such as Flipz and Turtles.

  • Lesnard, who previously worked at Nike, The North Face and Sephora, has a mission to “grow and sustain GODIVA’s position and expertise in the premium chocolate category, leveraging ongoing support from pladis to take GODIVA and its legendary chocolate to new heights.”

  • The appointment comes as Pladis aims to accelerate Godiva’s sales by 2026, with the greatest push coming from its two biggest markets, the U.S. and China.

Dive Insight:

Lesnard is no stranger to operating, launching and building global brands. He joins Pladis from Sephora, where he served as global chief brand officer and president of private label, helping the business come out of the pandemic and post double-digit growth globally. While Godiva is different than cosmetics, Lesnard’s mission is the same: increase sales of the nearly century-old premium chocolate brand.

Lesnard joins Godiva at a challenging time for the global chocolate space. The world is dealing with war and inflation, which has prompted food and beverage companies to increase prices to offset their costs. Chocolate, in particular, has been hit hard, with cocoa prices soaring to their highest on record. The sector also is increasingly competitive, not only among stalwarts such as Hershey and Mars, but brands that are better for you or that contain ingredients raised under more economically and environmentally friendly conditions.

Despite these challenges, Lesnard will instantly benefit from the wide recognition of the Godiva brand and the premium halo surrounding the offering. Godiva was purchased by Pladis’ parent Yıldız Holdings in 2008 from Campbell Soup for $850 million. Yıldız is currently integrating Godiva into its Pladis portfolio of brands. “I’m energized by the opportunities GODIVA has, to continue benefiting from pladis’ industry-leading insights, extensive retail customer relationships, innovative R&D, and highly focused, profitable growth strategy,” Lesnard said.

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