End of the line for Fruitmarkt Cools, a well-known fruit and vegetable store chain in Antwerp: rising costs and a shortage of overstock have killed the retailer. Thirty shops have to close.
Business model broken
After 85 years, the family-owned chain was forced to call it a day. For thirty stores, Saturday was the last opening day, with eighty employees losing their jobs. There are a few exceptions: a handful of stores in Antwerp’s city centre can remain open under the name Best Fruit, co-manager Luc Cools told Gazet Van Antwerpen.
Despite rising energy and labour costs, the retailer still hoped to ride out the cost-of-living crisis, but a structural disruption of the fruit and vegetable market, partly due to the war in Ukraine, challenged the retailer’s entire business model. Cools had always bought surplus stock that the big supermarkets did not take from their importers. This allowed the chain to offer an unseen price-quality ratio in its shops.
However, that business model is a thing of the past now that there are no more surpluses on the market: international supply has shrunk sharply and supermarkets now buy everything themselves. With also less supply on the domestic market, as horticulturists are now saving on their greenhouse heating due to the energy crisis, the combination of factors has put an end to a once successful retail story.