Two years after opening a French language web shop, Dutch Coolblue is now set to open its first physical store in Belgium's French speaking area. Bilingual Brussels has already been confirmed, but the company is also looking for suitable locations in Liège and Charleroi.
Five new locations
The Dutch web shop-turned-store chain already has nine physical stores (six in the Netherlands, three in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium), but now looks to open five more stores this year. Tilburg, in the southern part of the Netherlands, has been confirmed as location for an XXL store, while the Belgian capital Brussels will get a 'regular' store.
"We want to open five new stores in Belgium and the Netherlands this year", spokesperson Ottelien Van Pelt confirms in an interview with RetailDetail, "but we are still looking for suitable locations in cities like Ghent, Liège and Charleroi. Nothing has been confirmed there as of yet - contrary to the confirmed stores in Brussels and Tilburg."
"Stone through the window" principle
After a long focus on the Dutch-speaking market, Coolblue has shifted into a higher gear to find other markets. After opening a French language web shop in 2017 and an English version last year, the company also went close to Belgium's language border with a (bilingual) store in Zaventem. Crossing into the French part of Belgium is therefore only a logical step.
Founder Pieter Zwart is still clinging on to the principle which he calls "stone through the window": in areas near his physical stores, online turnover rises dramatically because consumers "know they can physically reach us if something is wrong, and if something is badly wrong they would be able to throw a stone through our window". Not that he should be afraid of that: on top of a record turnover, his company also announced a record customer satisfaction (NPS).