New Hema CEO, Tjeerd Jegen, is cleaning things up at the ailing department store chain. "Hema has become too much of a supermarket", it is said, with even one of the biggest Dutch icons ever (Jip & Janneke) under threat.
Tjeerd Jegen is Ronald van Zetten's successor at Hema and he has been quite busy over these past few months. He transformed the Amsterdam main office into a "support office", chalked the company's main values ("customer is number one", "every cent matters") on the wall, changed the board of directors and placed all directors between their employees.
All board members, himself included, worked in a store for two days and will wear a button with "can I help you?", just like every other employee does. Now, six months into the job, his findings were harsh: "It came down to the fact that every division was too preoccupied with its own division. We need to change our company culture, to get things done together", he told Dutch paper Het Algemeen Dagblad.
Battle plan ready
The new CEO knows what to do for the next few years: the jam-packed warehouses have to be emptied ("we will need two years at least to sell out everything"), move its production facilities to Europe ("That means we can get items into shops within 6 weeks instead of 20 weeks and get popular seasonal items back in stock quickly").
He will also update the product range, increasing focus on convenience food ("We have become too much of a supermarket lately. We do not have to replicate what Albert Heijn and Jumbo have done already") and decent, seasonal basics like underwear, socks and t-shirts ("If customers require the latest fashion items, then they can go to Primark and Zara").
Even Jip & Janneke and their dog Takkie are no longer sacred. "We do not need a in-depth market research to see that younger children nowadays have other heroes from books or movies", he told AD.
International expansion and user-friendly web shop
Tjeerd Jegen still believes in international expansion even though analysts have pointed out that the fast growth (more than 300 new stores and 4 new countries since 2007) is actually part of the problem. The CEO states that "every new store contributes to the operating income".
He feels there is room for several hundred new stores in France, where it already has 41 stores now. "On a third of the floor space, with a third of our product range, we manage a better profitability than in our average Dutch store".
The main priority will be its web shop, which has to become more user-friendly. "We have seven payment services and it may take up to 7 days before you can pick up your package in one of our stores. I am deeply embarrassed about that as it makes it very hard for customers to order online and that has to change as fast as possible." Currently, Hema barely manages 3 % of its turnover online, while its competitors have surpassed 10 %.