Dutch eco-merger: Ekoplaza buys Natuurwinkel

Gevel Ekoplaza Amsterdam

Dutch Udea, parent company of eco-store chain Ekoplaza, has acquired competitor Natuurwinkel for an undisclosed amount. When both organic chains join forces, they have more than 100 stores.

 

150 million euro turnover

Natuurwinkel will add a 30 million turnover to Ekoplaza's 120 million, while Belgian distributor Hagor and Dutch wholesaler Kroon also move from Vroegop Ruhe to Udea. The added power should help Ekoplaza fill its new distribution center in Veghel, which has proven to be a huge cost and therefore turnover growth is necessary for the organic chain. Natuurwinkel stores would continue under the Ekoplaza flag, says general manager Erik Does in Dutch newspaper FD: "We will start a dialogue with Natuurwinkel franchisers about rebranding to Ekoplaza, but we will not pressure them into changing." 

 

The acquisition of Natuurwinkel (and more specifically its Belgian subsidiary Hagor) gives Ekoplaza a solid foothold in Belgium, where it has been only active with a test web shop. "We will determine our further course based on our own experiences", Does says.

 

Shared history

Natuurwinkels and Ekoplaza share some history, as Udea used to deliver fresh produce to the Natuurwinkels until its then owner Wessanen decided to take the deliveries into its own hands. Vroegop Ruhe bought the chain in 2014, when Wessanen decided to focus on production, but was forced to start the selling proces in 2017 due to financial difficulties. 

 

Organic food is a growing market, but specialised companies have a hard time competing with large supermarket chains. French Carrefour has discovered the appeal (and high prices) of this niche market, promising to direct consumers to organic food. Other sellers of organic food all are a lot smaller: Odin has 22 stores, Marqt only 15 and Landmarkt is limited to just two stores.