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The Netherlands – a high density international retail market

The Netherlands is one of the moste densely populated countries in Europe and a heaven for brands and retailers.

The Netherlands; with 16 million people living on 41.000 square kilometers. This makes the Netherlands one of the most densely populated counties in Europe. It also one of the most prosperous, coming fourth in BNP per capita after Luxembourg, Norway and Switzerland. Although in the Euro zone, the open economy is stable, inflation is low and the financial policies are considered to be healthy. Unemployment, even in the current financial crisis, is also low; just 4%. The Netherlands is also the most important transport gateway through good infrastructure and the port of Rotterdam. Important corporate companies are Shell, Unilever, ASML, DSM AkzoNobel, Philips, Heineken and many more.

Many international retailers have seen en found opportunities in the Netherlands. Until the late eighties, the major Dutch retail areas were dominated by traditional Dutch retailers like C&A, Vroom & Dreesman, Peek and Cloppenburg and HEMA. During the nineties foreign retailers started entering the Dutch market; with considerable success. The Bestseller concept Vero Moda now has more stores in the Netherlands than anywhere else. H&M is extremely successful in the Dutch market. So is Bjorn Borg. Zara entered the market in the late nineties and made a slow start. Assumption is that they underestimated the need for local knowledge in order to get the right locations and the right staff. Since a few years they are expanding rapidly also. Besides from fashion there are other success stories. Ikea, for instance, has a large share of the market in the Netherlands. New concepts like Sabon and Yisk are becoming more and more established.

Besides being prosperous, the Dutch consumer also embraces foreign concepts. The Dutch are willing to try new, exciting things; this also shows in the extreme success of online shopping. The Netherlands has one of the highest densities in Internet connections per head and the number is rising. Shopping online is becoming more and more accepted, retailers are acting upon that opportunity by optimizing their “bricks and clicks” concepts.

The Netherlands has 29 cities with more than 100.000 inhabitants, with Amsterdam being the largest with appr. 750.000. Most of them are within two hours driving distance from each other, which makes operational management for the stores a lot easier. Besides that, if a retail brand is established in five cities, most Dutch consumers will have visited them during shopping trips. Most inner city major retailers, depending on the concept, aim to have 50 to 100 stores in the Netherlands. With strong concepts, thorough research and advice, local knowledge and expertise these numbers of stores have proven to be feasible for a great deal of retailers.

Written by Emma B - Diamon expert

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