Next month, Dutch retailer Blokker wants to evaluate its Belgian stores. The chain is haemorrhaging money and that may well cause another series of store closings, relatively shortly after the previous decommissioning round in 2017.
Blokker's Belgian stores have been failing to produce profit for years. In Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, owner Michiel Witteveen now says that "Belgium is a problem": next month, the CEO wants to "evaluate" the situation. The company does not answer questions from Belgian business newspaper De Tijd about the possible consequences: "We will not say something until there is something to say."
Things have been going badly at Blokker Belgium for many years, even after the major restructuring of 2017 in which 63 stores were closed and 230 jobs were cut. Last year things went even further downhill: sales in Belgium fell by almost a third, and there was an operating loss of 4.6 million euros.
There was also no peace and quiet at management level: different directors came and went, each with their own emphasis. For example, the last one in line, Geert Kampschoër, scaled back the renewal plans of his predecessors: "I have decided to stop the renovations of the Belgian stores until we know better which direction we want to take," he said. He also felt that the Belgian stores were not adapted to the local context, and were mostly copies of the Dutch stores.