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Interview Synopsis

Hema – LFL & margin expansion opportunities

  • Multi Asset
  • Consumer
  • Europe

Dutch variety store Hema is generally considered a good, joyful brand. But the company’s recent results, particularly Q4 2018, suggest it is struggling on a couple of fronts.

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Trends and Competitive Forces in the Dutch Retail Market

Third Bridge Forum spoke to the former C-level executive at Etam Holding to discuss trends in the Dutch retail market and why some of Hema’s products have not been selling as well as they could.

The specialist considered Hema’s position in relation to its brick-and-mortar competitors such as Action and Flying Tiger, and explained how Hema’s move online would undoubtedly impact its ability to compete with pure-play e-tailers such as Wehkamp and Bol.com. 

To set the scene, while consumer confidence has taken a tumble in the Netherlands, it remains positive, buoyed by low unemployment. Although the picture is positive for big names like Gucci and the department stores carrying them, as well as discount retailers, those in the middle – including Hema – are not faring so well. 

Apparel in particular is taking a hit; while overall demand in Holland is down, Hema’s offering has really failed to impress. “They don’t seem to get it right. Prices were wrong. The collection was wrong,” the specialist said. Children’s wear and baby clothes are among the company’s bright spots, but its collections for women and men are “not good”. Hema is lacking a vision – somebody to steer it in the right direction and who understands the customer and the store limitations. 

In terms of its fashion competitors, one to watch is privately owned Zeeman, which is expanding into countries including Spain, adding to its already 1,300 stores in Europe. It is profitable “year in, year out”, the specialist said, “and something that you should really follow because there will be a day that they will be on the market…”.

The Interview also considered the like-for-like outlook for the Hema, and took a closer look at its beauty and food divisions. 

To access all the human insights from Third Bridge’s Hema – LFL & Margin Expansion Opportunities Interview, click below to view the full transcript.

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