Letter from Paris 4: Continental thrift
The homewares retailer was founded in Amsterdam in 1926.
The store combines elements of the practical appeal of Lakeland, with the functional design of Muji, and the bazaar-like atmosphere of Ikea’s market place, all at a bargain prices that are close to Primark levels. It’s like Wilkinson for a younger generation, or a Woolworths with style.
The product range encompasses kitchen goods, tableware, soft furnishings, toiletries and cosmetics, clothing, stationery, plus foodstuffs including sweets and chocolates. The vast majority of products on sale are its own brands and designs.
HEMA was the first franchise organisation in the Netherlands and is still the largest in the country. It began life selling goods at standard prices of 10, 25 or 50 cents, and later also 75 and 100 cents, making it a European equivalent of an American dimestore and a precursor of Poundland. Its prices do cover a broader range these days, but are still very competitive.
The chain has around 450 stores in the Netherlands, plus more than 60 in Belgium, and a handful of shops in France and Germany. Hopefully, the UK will be next on its list.
This is the fourth in a series of short postings prompted by a recent flying visit to Paris.
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