2014 was 2theloo's international breakthrough, but it was also the year in which the Dutch 'toilet chain' tragically lost one of its founders. Nevertheless, its ambition is still to become the world's largest retailer.
Nearly 200 toilet store in 14 countries
Its very first store opened in the Kalverstraat in Amsterdam, but since then the chain has added nearly 200 stores in 14 different countries. It has added stores in shopping malls, gas stations, train stations and other busy places and attracts more than 40 million customers per year. These customers have to pay to use the toilets, but in return they get a discount on the articles in the store.
Its co-founder Almar Holtz has told Dutch newspaper Het Parool that 2theloo's success can easily be explained: "It had not been around before and it seems to be a huge market. Online sales have exploded and therefore shopping areas need new services to attract customers. 2theloo not only allows people to use the restroom, but will also offer clothes repair, money withdrawal, dry-cleaning and a pick-up location for online orders."
"All of the big players want to talk to us"
The Kalverstraat was its first location, but that was quickly followed by more Dutch locations in Amstelveen and Rotterdam and in Belgian Antwerp. Before the end of that first year, the company had even received a multi-million bid from Villeroy & Boch, a listed company, but "We turned that down. We had barely just started and did not need the money anyway", Holtz explained.
2012 was 2theloo's first profitable year and figures have quadrupled its turnover every year since. "If we look at the number of stores, we can become the world's largest retailer. Starbucks, Burger King, you name it: all of the big players want to talk to us."
Tragic car accident
There has also been some tragedy in 2theloo's success story, when its co-founder Eric Treurniet passed away in a tragic car accident. "I was already talking to the shareholders that Sunday. I have never considered quitting, but it has changed me", Holtz said.
"My agenda decided how I lived my life over the past six months. Our schedule was already immensely busy when the two of us were here, but now all of a sudden, I had two jobs. Work is a distraction, but you are constantly reminded of the sadness. I have not only lost a companion, but also my very best friend. We had a marriage which has now vanished, the hardest blow I have ever endured."
Luckily, they had just sold part of the company's shares, which meant that the financial side of the situation had been dealt with. That was lucky, but "I have barely had time to think it over. The holiday period will allow me to do so, but things have gotten very serious now."