The Dutch Blokker chain is leaving Belgium and Luxembourg: owner Mirage Retail Group sells its 123 stores in both countries to the Dutch Retail Groep. In the coming months, they will be converted into 'Mega World' discount stores.
"Measures were inevitable"
All stores remain open: DRG's Dirk Bron, an experienced retail entrepreneur, vows to quickly convert them into a discount concept. The acquisition offers Mega World immediate national coverage in Belgium and a presence in Luxembourg.
The decision is not really a surprise, because Blokker Belgium's problems have been well-documented: the company has been haemorrhaging money for years. Earlier, a source in the trade unions disclosed only six to eight of the remaining 123 stores are profitable. The retailer never succeeded in finding an answer to the rise of e-commerce and new, powerful competitors such as Action.
Last year, sales fell by as much as 30 % to 60 million euros, while the operational loss amounted to 4.6 million euros - meaning there was no budget to innovate (even if there had been a vision). As a result, Blokker BeLux was stuck with too many stores - and they were very outdated and did not meet current consumer expectations. Moreover, the retailer had completely missed the switch to e-commerce.
A first major restructuring in 2017 already led to 63 stores being closed and more than 230 jobs cut, but that could not turn the tide. A test with a compact city centre shop according to a new concept was also unable to get the company back on track.
In the course of 2019, both owner Michiel Witteveen and general manager Belgium Geert Kampschoër emphasised on several occasions that Blokker would remain in Belgium. They described stories about a possible exit as "nonsense". However, they could never remove the doubt, which now turns out to be right...