Danish interior design chain Jysk has opened its largest store in Belgium, in a new building that also houses its sister company Sofacompany as well as its head office. The retailer now aims for 125 stores in Belgium.
Double the size
The new project is almost next-door to where Jysk’s Belgian story began in 2017, but that first store grew way too fast: it is the chain’s largest shop in Benelux in terms of turnover. However, the outdated premises were bursting at the seams, so when the retailer had the opportunity to build a new building on the site of an old Renault garage nearby, the decision was easy to make. Now a flagship store twice the size of the former shop has opened, according to the very latest Scandinavian shop concept.
The new building houses a Jysk store of 1400 sqm, as well as warehouses and a store of Sofacompany that is also part of the Lars Larsen group. The Danish retailer hopes that both chains reinforce each other. Moreover, the upper floor will house the retailer’s new headquarters.
To 125 stores?
In its six years in Belgium, Jysk has opened 57 stores. “65 too few”, country director Frank Christant says. “During the pandemic, we thought for a while we could do with fewer shops, but now we see that the share of online is stabilising at 15 % of sales. We want to have a local presence, we want to be maximum ten kilometres away from every customer. We open an average of ten shops a year.” Jysk does not favour city centre locations: “Most city concepts proved unsuccessful. You do have passage and conversion there, but average spending is significantly lower as people buy fewer mattresses and furniture there.”
Jysk focuses everything on efficiency: the retailer has one shop concept, with uniform shelf plans. Central to this is the mattress studio. Each shop has at least one sleep expert, who trained at the Jysk Sleep Academy. However, there is room for local accents: “From the global assortment of 12,000 items, we choose 4,000. There are cultural differences: in Belgium we sell box springs, French people want very thick mattresses. Belgians spend a bit more on decoration than the Dutch, so we give that category a bit more space.”
Christant believes that Jysk’s core strength is that “this is a family business: we do everything in the long term.” He gives two examples: “With high inflation, we have invested in margin to keep prices low. Not all retailers have done that by a long shot. And when the company proposed a new shop concept, we decided to immediately remodel all shops in three years. That is extreme.” Indeed, having closed the old store in Schoten and replaced it with the new building, all 57 Belgian shops now have the latest concept. In the Netherlands, 75 out of 100 have been remodeled.
A special asset is the chain’s staff, Christant says: “We invest heavily in our people: anyone who comes here as a salesperson or assistant shop manager gets up to 23 days of training a year. At Jysk, you can really make a career: we want to fill 90 % of our management positions with internal candidates. Still, for us as well it is a struggle to attract people: the situation is most difficult around cities like Antwerp, Brussels and Ghent.”