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          Blokker quits Belgium, stores converted into ‘Mega World’ discounts

          Blokker store in Leuven

          The Dutch Blokker chain is leaving Belgium and Luxembourg: owner Mirage Retail Group sells its 123?stores in both countries to the Dutch Retail Groep. In the coming months, they will be converted into 'Mega World' discount stores.

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          "Measures were inevitable"

          All stores remain open: DRG's Dirk Bron, an experienced retail entrepreneur, vows to quickly convert them into a discount concept. The acquisition offers Mega World immediate national coverage in Belgium and a presence in Luxembourg.

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          The decision is not really a surprise, because Blokker Belgium's problems have been well-documented: the company has been haemorrhaging money for years. Earlier, a source in the trade unions disclosed only six to eight of the remaining 123?stores are profitable. The retailer never succeeded in finding an answer to the rise of e-commerce and new, powerful competitors such as Action.

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          Dramatic figures

          Last year, sales fell by as much as 30?% to 60?million euros, while the operational loss amounted to 4.6? million euros - meaning there was no budget to innovate (even if there had been a vision). As a result, Blokker BeLux was stuck with too many stores - and they were very outdated and did not meet current consumer expectations. Moreover, the retailer had completely missed the switch to e-commerce.

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          A first major restructuring in 2017 already led to 63?stores being closed and more than 230?jobs cut, but that could not turn the tide. A test with a compact city centre shop according to a new concept was also unable to get the company back on track.

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          In the course of 2019, both owner Michiel Witteveen and general manager Belgium Geert Kampscho?r emphasised on several occasions that Blokker would remain in Belgium. They described stories about a possible exit as "nonsense". However, they could never remove the doubt, which now turns out to be right...

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