Fashion chain C&A is closing dozens of stores, all over Europe. With the accession of CEO Giny Boer in 2020 came the beginning of a new strategy: by 2026, half of all sales have to come from online. The effect on offline is clear…
Since October last year, C&A has closed almost seventy shops in Europe, Dutch website RetailTrends recently reported. Nineteen shops closed in Germany, twelve in the Netherlands and nine in Belgium – bringing the total there to twenty over the past five years. Shops also closed in countries such as Austria, France, Poland and Portugal. Fewer than 1,300 now remain, in seventeen countries.
Soon, the fashion chain will drop below the symbolic limit of 100 stores in Belgium. Employees were also laid off at the head office, but the retailer is not communicating about it so as not to cause unrest, spokesperson Eva Van Elst told newspaper De Tijd. The news is not very surprising: C&A has been working on a modernisation strategy for a good two years under the impetus of CEO Boer. Unprofitable shops are being closed, others are being renovated. The former are mainly shops in smaller or medium-sized cities.
The urgency is high for C&A: the retailer suffers from outdated stores that are often too large or whose rent is too high. The chain also needs to look for a better balance between offline and online. In terms of e-commerce, the retailer is catching up: by 2026, half of its sales should come from online. In this way, the retailer also wants to appeal to a younger audience.
The retailer has missed a lot of opportunities to become more up to date in recent decades due to slow decision-making, and it did not find an adequate answer to the growth of fast fashion. The once very innovative company is now struggling with a corny image, so C&A needs to rejuvenate and become more sustainable.
Whether it will succeed, remains to be seen. C&A is still a family business, owned by the famously secretive Brenninkmeijer family. The company is not listed on the stock exchange, which may be an advantage in this crisis. Still, there is no doubt that the strategic repositioning of the chain will take a lot of time and a lot of money. Moreover, C&A is not an isolated case: the entire fashion sector is under pressure, with big names such as H&M and Zara also optimising their shops.