Veritas is ready to shift up another gear towards European expansion and the Belgian chain is looking for a partner to support that growth. The family-run company will therefore open its doors, for the very first time, for an external shareholder.
200 stores and 200 million euro turnover
Veritas believes its store concept would hit it big in an international market, which is why it wants to start a European expansion: "There are no similar chains in Europe and you cannot find our array of products in a single store anywhere, so we are entering a open market", Veritas' new CEO, Ine Verhaert, said to De Tijd.
The foreign growth would start in the neighbouring countries, with pilot stores outside of Luxembourg and Belgium as early as the beginning of 2015. The goal would be to have 200 European stores in the medium term, in a radius of 350 km around its main office, bringing in a 200 million euro turnover.
Veritas also aims for online expansion, which should represent 10 % of the accessory and haberdashery chain's total turnover. Local growth also has to continue, with digital booths in 2015 and room for another 16 stores in its home markets of Belgium and Luxembourg.
Capable partner required
The entire strategy is a logical continuance of Veritas' turnaround since 2002, when it decided to focus on individualization. That meant that every woman shopping at Veritas would be able to get whatever she needed to give her outfit a personal and unique 'touch'. It turned out to be a stroke of genius at that time and the perfect answer to the contemporary demands, globalization and fast-fashion's surge.
Retail nowadays is faced with another decisive challenge: "Where stores used to be open from 10 to 18h today, they have to be available 24/7 tomorrow. There are no more geographical boundaries anymore and it is the next generational retail development that pushes through an omnichannel approach in an international environment", Marc Peeters, chairman of the board, told RetailDetail.
That is why Veritas's board came to the conclusion that the current approach was reaching its peak, which meant a new type of business has to be born. "We are, once again, at a pivotal moment in Veritas's history and we are reaching out to the growth opportunities that are available to us now."
"We need homogeneous capabilities in Verigroup to make all that happen, with everyone having the right set of skills to implement our omni-channel strategy. That is why we are looking for a strategic referential partner, who can follow us in our strategy and who brings 'unlimited retail environment' experience to the table", the chairman explained.
"Everything can be discussed"
ING will help Veritas in finding and selecting a suitable partner with even a majority stake on the table if necessary, according to chairman Peeters. However, it is a matter of discussion and agreement with the current seven shareholder families. "As long as the purchaser can accept the uniqueness of the Veritas idea, everything is possible", Marc Peeters told De Tijd. Veritas expects to have a clearer view of its plans by the end of the year.
Over the past 5 years (2008-2013) Veritas has seen an annual 14.1 % growth, despite a stagnant textile fashion market. It even expects another 13 % turnover growth this year, to some 128 million euro.