Take over one of the best-known department store chains in the Netherlands and put millions in the bargain. It happened to Michiel Witteveen, the current CEO of the group. With this Blokker ceases to be a family business. The chain was founded in 1896 by Jacob and Saapke Blokker. Grandson Jaap Blokker, who was named Businessman of the Year in 2003, made the company great. He passed away in 2011. Since then it has been going downhill with Blokker.

The multi-million dollar bonus that Witteveen receives indicates, on the one hand, that the loss-making retail chain has now really become a leg of the family and, on the other, that there is great confidence in the incumbent CEO. The family is committed to Michiel Witteveen, because he offers the best guarantees for the continuity of the chain and the employment of the more than five thousand Dutch employees.

Good family father

The new owner is reported to receive € 280 million. According to official group sources, this is a 'financial contribution for the further successful realization'. It is not told what this 'successful realization' will look like; neither by the family, nor by the new owner. The family trusts that Michiel Witteveen will fit as a 'good family man' or inheritance. Witteveen takes over the entire holding, which also includes Big Bazar. Other business units, including Leen Bakker and Intertoys, previously sold.

For Intertoys, despite the curtain, as we wrote in our previous blog about omnichannel retail as a remedy against the boom in bankruptcies. In the same blog, we wondered how long Blokker would still be able to keep its store formula intact. After all, the group (474 own stores and 77 franchise stores in the Netherlands; 139 stores in the Benelux) has suffered losses since 2014. In 2017 this was still € 344 million on a turnover of € 1.6 billion.

Blokker's Bricks & Clicks strategy

With the sale of the chain to the incumbent management, the cold seems to be out of the blue. Nevertheless, Michiel Witteveen and his team will also have to work hard on the formula to make Blokker a profitable retail chain again. Witteveen, scion of a well-known and successful retail family (fashion chain Witteveen and Claudia Sträter), and especially successful as an investor, will also pursue an omnichannel course. In fact, Blokker started doing this some time ago.

In early February, Blokker announced her in a press release Bricks & Clicks strategy On. The company was already for sale at that time. The ambition was clear: to fully combine the range of 'everything we need in the household' from the physical stores and the web store. With the aim: a consistent and optimally tailored range to customer requirements. Until early 2019, the channels were still completely separate, which has undoubtedly contributed to the red numbers.

Deployed Bricks & Clicks strategy signpost to the future

According to the cited press release, the integration of the 'bricks' and 'clicks' would be completed in the summer of this year. To speed things up, the retail organization and the ecommerce organization were merged into one building in Amsterdam at the beginning of this year. Online sales should give the retail chain a major boost. Commenting on the sale with millions, Michiel Witteveen says to act with a view to the long term. "I seize the opportunity to give this iconic company a new future together with all employees."

Furthermore, the new owner understandably left nothing to say about the company course shortly after the takeover. However, we can count on our fingers that the deployed bricks & clicks strategy is one of the most important pillars. The signpost to the future. We will continue to monitor developments closely.



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