NEW YORK, U.S. — Godiva, the global leader in premium chocolate owned by Yildiz Holding, today named Nurtac Ziyal Afridi as CEO. The announcement caps her two months serving as interim chief executive officer in which she and her leadership team developed a three-year strategy to seize new opportunities through Godiva’s dynamic omnichannel structure. Afridi, a Godiva board member as well as Yildiz Holding’s chief strategy and growth officer, said she will work with her teams to continue making the company’s popular chocolates and chocolate-inspired products accessible by extending its channels, which include online and FDM (food drug mass), to reach new consumers and engage with loyal consumers in new ways.
Her appointment comes as Godiva has sought to bring the company’s chocolate to a wider audience and adjusted its business operations in line with changes in shoppers’ behavior. Year to date, the company has seen significant growth in its consumer base, driven largely by Godiva.com and FDM sales.
“Afridi brings an impressive combination of business, operational and finance expertise to Godiva along with a strong passion for people and nurturing talent. She has a proven track record of powerful business results in corporate development, which will ensure that Godiva continues to capture opportunities that honor its roots and align with its bold vision for the future,” said Murat Ulker, Godiva ‘s chairman.
Afridi said she’s inspired to lead a Belgium-born, premium brand marked by nearly 95 years of craftsmanship and artisanal chocolate expertise. She aims to make Godiva a destination for people looking to treat themselves in addition to the gift-givers who have been the brand’s more traditional demographic. What started in the Draps’ family kitchen in 1926 has become an iconic brand with a global footprint across 100 markets, reaching 4 billion consumers and making Godiva a unique brand that’s synonymous with the world’s most delicious chocolate.
Looking to meet the needs of today’s consumers, Afridi said she plans to grow the business in new channels and geographies, expand the product portfolio and augment the customer and consumer relations through digital.
“The exceptional quality of our products reflects our rich and beautiful heritage, dedication to innovation, and commitment to using the finest ingredients. We will continue to extend our reach and leverage an omnichannel approach to deliver on our beloved brand, maintaining a strong connection with our fans and ensuring our premium chocolates are more available and accessible to our global consumers,” Afridi said.
We continue to be very focused on leveraging digital technology to anticipate the needs of consumers, exceed expectations, and make Godiva the most top-of-mind premium chocolate brand. I am honored to work with my extraordinary team on these endeavors during such a pivotal time for Godiva,” she said.
At Yildiz Holding, Afridi played an instrumental role while the business transformed into a global snacking group with more than 300 brands available in over 120 countries. In addition to her operational experience, she led the acquisitions of iconic brands like Govida in 2008 and McVitie’s, Carr’s, Jacobs, and BN (United Biscuits) in 2014, the latter of which drove the creation of the pladis company, the third largest biscuit company in the world. Afridi also led the licensing deal for Godiva in Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. In addition, she spearheaded the acquisition and IPO of Sok Marketler, which is now the second largest discount retailer in Turkey, and Bizim Toptan, the leading discount retailer company in Turkey. Before Yildiz Holding, Afridi held leadership positions at other global companies, like Accenture and Arthur Andersen & Co.
She earned her MBA in Germany and a bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance in Istanbul.