Two retail heavyweights are joining the board of directors at Tom&Co, the Belgian petcare chain that aims to become the European market leader. One of them is former Lidl top executive Jesper Hojer.
With immediate effect, Jesper Hojer will become chairman of the board of directors at Tom&Co. The retailer reports this in a press release. Hojer was CEO of Lidl International between 2017 and 2019, previously he was also general manager for Lidl Belgium. He currently chairs the boards of food marketplace Everli and meat substitute producer The Meatless Farm. A seasoned retail expert, in other words.
Also new to the board is Christelle Le Hir: she was CEO of French fresh food chain Grand Frais until 2021 and is currently chairwoman of organic chain La Vie Claire. Before that, she made a career at AB InBev. Her taking office is important because Tom&Co is growing strongly in France.
Tom&Co makes no secret of its ambitions: the chain eventually wants to become the European market leader in the pet specialty sector. The company says it differentiates itself with its omnichannel shopping experience, exclusive product ranges, services and expert advice. Today, the retailer has 190 stores, including 132 in Belgium, 2 in Luxembourg and 56 in France. That still puts it far behind European market leader Maxi Zoo, from German group Fressnapf, which has more than 2,000 stores in 11 countries.
But owners Thierry Le Grelle, Lionel Desclée and Philippe Dechamps found a solid investor earlier this year to finance their growth plans: that is the investment fund Verlinvest from the de Spoelberch family, which is also a shareholder in AB InBev. That holding company mainly invests in growth companies in FMCG and health, including brands such as Oatly, Vita Coco, Tony’s Chocolonely, Vitaminwater and Remy Cointreau.