Belgian textile entrepreneurs Peter and Kristof De Sutter have been appointed by the Commercial Court of Dendermonde as the buyers of bankrupt fashion chain e5. With a bid of 2.5 million euros, the Flemish family beats Colruyt Group and Danish fashion player BTX.
Investment of 5 million euros
The offer of the De Sutter family was already favoured by the trade unions. Unlike the other candidates, they wanted to take over all of the 55 e5 stores, with the intention of keeping 90 per cent of the 450 jobs.
The buyers plan investments worth 5 million over the next three years. In a press release, they even state that they want to hire 50 new employees 'in the long run' and are looking at opening four new branches in locations where e5 is not yet present.
“We firmly believe in the chances of success of this project. We want the Flemish icon e5 to be a success again", says brand new co-CEO Peter De Sutter. He believes in brick-and-mortar: "Once the corona crisis is behind us, people will go back to the stores because they missed the experience too much." Nevertheless, the new owner will also invest in the webshop and in digital direct marketing. In time, the webshop should account for 20% of e5's turnover.
The big question is how credible De Sutter's ambitions are. E5 has been loss-making for years, struggles with a outdated concept and an older customer group that is - literally - dying out. Add to that the high cost structure of the company and you have to conclude that the challenge is particularly great.
"We are going to further develop the collections, so that they are even better suited to our customers, who want a beautiful and trendy outfit at a fair price. The range will be more complete, and we will invest in our own e5 brands, which we will supplement with fun and affordable European labels," says De Sutter. "We are also continuing to redesign the stores, and we want to make the shopping experience more intuitive, so that customers can find what they are looking for more easily."
The De Sutter family is making a strong case that it is ready for all the challenges that lie ahead. All excess costs have been eliminated. Once consumer confidence picks up again, the chain will benefit fully from this.