Witteveen previously took over the remnants of the once powerful retail giant Blokker Holding: Blokker, Big Bazar and Intertoys. Blokker Holding has since been renamed Mirage Retail Group. If the talks between Witteveen and the French succeed, his retail business will now be strengthened with the 62 BCC stores.
Problems with web shops
However, the question is whether you can really speak of a reinforcement. White goods and electronics stores have suffered a lot in recent years from the rise of web stores such as Bol.com, Coolblue and specialized sites.
Witteveen says today in the FD that the French owners invested millions in 2008, which will improve the company’s performance. “BCC has done a lot better recently and I think we can work well together at the back,” said the entrepreneur.
But it is not without reason that the French will settle for a ‘symbolic amount’ for the Dutch retail chain.
The most up-to-date annual accounts of BCC Holding do not provide a rosy picture of the situation in the chain. This concerns the annual accounts for 2018, which were only filed with the Chamber of Commerce in January of this year.
That report shows that BCC had a dramatic year in 2017. On a turnover of 565 million euros, the company posted a loss of more than 21 million euros. At the end of that year, the Dutch retail chain had negative equity of nearly 14 million. At the time, BCC was therefore technically bankrupt.
To get BCC back on track, parent group FNAC granted the Dutch retail chain a capital injection of 80 million euros in February 2018. As a result, positive equity was again in the books at the end of that year.
But from an operational point of view, the results of BCC were also not to write home about in 2018. Turnover plummeted by more than 39 percent to 343 million euros. And at the bottom of the line that year was a loss of 12.5 million euros.
Figures for 2019 are not yet known. Nine months after the end of the financial year, the annual accounts of the Dutch retail chain have still not been filed with the Chamber of Commerce.
And the press release about the annual figures of the parent company FNAC Darty has been ‘cleared’ of the Dutch results, because the business unit was put up for sale.
That’s not really a sign that BCC’s results in 2019 were good. The half-year figures that the parent company announced at the end of July also show that the French had to write off no less than 42 million euros on the book value of BCC.
Bakker Cash & Carry
BCC was founded in 1945 by entrepreneur Herman Bakker, with a first store in Amsterdam-West. Under his sons Carel and Coos, the company was expanded into a regional chain under the name Bakker Cash & Carry in the 1970s and 1980s.
In 1997, the then owners sold the company with 23 stores at the time for 105 million guilders to the British retail giant Kingfisher.
In foreign hands
For almost a quarter of a century, BCC remained in the hands of that foreign owner, who, incidentally, repeatedly changed identities. In 2003 Kingfisher spun off its electronics business to Kesa Electricals. That was renamed Darty in 2012. In 2015, this was eventually taken over by the French retail group FNAC.
The foreign owners of BCC have invested in the Dutch chain for a long time to make it profitable. For example, at the end of 2014, BCC was able to take over eighteen stores from HiM, the company behind De Harense Smid and It’s Electronics.
In spite of this, BCC has made large losses in recent years. At the beginning of this year, before the corona crisis broke out, FNAC-Darty already announced that it was looking for a new owner for the Dutch retail chain. According to the group, it wanted to focus on markets where it has sufficient ‘critical mass’.
According to the press release that the French sent out yesterday evening, BCC has better chances under Michiel Witteveen’s Mirage Retail Group. “FNAC Darty is convinced that this intended transaction will enable BCC to benefit from the right support to perform successfully in its market.”
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