By Craig Patterson
Amsterdam-based value-priced household products retailer HEMA announced that it will expand its operations in Canada after striking partnerships that will include standalone storefronts as well as shop-in-stores at Walmart. The first stores are expected to open this year, according to the company.
HEMA will also expand into the United States this summer with an offering on Walmart’s US e-commerce which will be followed by stores. It’s all part of a global expansion that has seen the company open hundreds of stores in Europe and Asia.
In Canada, HEMA will launch its expansion in Ontario, where the company says it will open standalone stores as well as shop-in-stores within large Walmart locations that have enough space for the shops. A national rollout is expected in 2020 as HEMA gains brand recognition and expands its distribution.
As part of its North American expansion, HEMA says that it will be adding ‘Amsterdam’ to its brand name in order to emphasize its Dutch origins to distinguish the brand. The name ‘HEMA’ stands for Hollandsche Eenheidsprijzen Maatschappij Amsterdam, or translated into English, ”Hollandic Standard Prices Company Amsterdam”.
Tjeerd Jegen, CEO of HEMA, said, "The expansion into North America is a historic step for HEMA, as our founders Leo Meyer and Arthur Isaac first saw dollar stores in that region almost 100 years ago. They introduced this concept to the Netherlands by opening the first HEMA store. We are particularly proud of our partnership with Walmart, the world's largest retailer. This makes Walmart the ideal partner to start on the North American market. This collaboration also fits in perfectly with our international expansion strategy."
HEMA’s international growth strategy consists of working with partners as well as its own online channels and those of other companies, while also working with master franchise partners and wholesale activities. In a press release, HEMA said that it is working with a local partner to open its first Ontario stores, though few details were provided.
With an aim of “making its customers' daily lives easier and more fun”, HEMA was founded in 1926 and offers a wide range of inexpensive home goods and other categories. Its overseas websites also show that the retailer sells value-priced fashions for men, women and children, and also has a beauty line as well as stationery and hobby & leisure offerings. Quality is said to be good and many of the products are designed specifically for the retailer. HEMA has more than 32,000 of its own brand products and services, and has more than 750 stores in 12 countries on three continents. The company has more than 19,000 employees globally.
The first HEMA store opened in Amsterdam in 1926 by the owners of upscale department store chain De Bijenkorf (now part of Selfridges Group). HEMA sold goods at standard prices, hence its hame. During World War II, many of the retailer’s Jewish employees were murdered by the Nazis and the tragedy is remembered yearly by a wreath laying on May 4 at the company’s head office.
In 2018, Dutch billionaire Marcel Boekhoorn acquired the retailer from Lion Capital LLP which had owned HEMA since 2007.
HEMA will compete with a wide range of retailers in Canada, ranging from the likes of Ikea to smaller chains such as Kitchen Stuff Plus. Depending on whether or not HEMA brings its fashion offering to Canada, fast-fashion retailers could see competition given HEMA’s relatively low price-points. HEMA is the latest international retailer to announce its expansion into Canada — last year more than 30 retailers entered Canada and in 2017, more than 50 international brands entered the Canadian market by opening storefronts. This year is proving to be a busy one in terms of first-to-market store announcements and openings.
Walmart Canada has been adding concessions to its stores across Canada in order to expand the big box retailer’s offerings. Last month, Chinese variety retailer Miniso opened its first Walmart shop-in-store in Toronto’s Stockyards retail centre. Walmart stores also feature food and beverage concessions such as Walmart and Tim Hortons, and many now also include medical clinics and other tenants in an effort to drive foot traffic while creating diversity within Walmart’s premises.
We’ll follow HEMA’s expansion into Canada, including what product categories it will carry in its Canadian stores.
Please Note: Retail Insider has not yet had any contact wth HEMA, and we wrote this article based on a press release, only. We currently have no further information as to partners, brokers or suppliers involved.
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd. Email Craig: email@example.com