Dutch Treat

Nontraditional retail outlets are on the rise in the Netherlands, offering new channels of opportunity for licensors. Although there is no question that The Netherlands is anything other than a stable economy, it, along with

April 6, 2018

Dutch Treat

Nontraditional retail outlets are on the rise in the Netherlands, offering new channels of opportunity for licensors.

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Although there is no question that The Netherlands is anything other than a stable economy, it, along with the rest of the world, suffered during the economic slowdown of 2001 to 2006, and with 5.5 percent of the 7.6 million workforce still unemployed, some economic scars clearly still remain.

There are also a number of significant retail hangovers from this economic downturn. In 2003, leading supermarket chain Albert Heijn began a savage price war, introducing price reductions on basic consumer products of between 10 to 25 percent, inevitably forcing competitors to follow suit. Nor was this the only legacy of the downturn. Facing the shrinking margins that were a direct consequence of the price war instigated by Heijn, most major supermarket chains began to move into product areas such as apparel, homeware, and consumer electronics, previously the exclusive domain of specialty retailers.

Indeed, Jeannine Lafebre, licensing director, Benelux, Nickelodeon & Viacom Consumer Products, identifies

this as one of the key current trends in Dutch retailing. "Nontraditional outlets," she insists, "are becoming increasingly important: supermarkets sell toys, DVDs, and books; book shops sell multimedia products; music stores sell books; and so on." Even though she acknowledges that "some years ago it was 'not done' to sell your hot licenses at nontraditional outlets, now it is recognized that these outlets can help to successfully introduce new properties."

Although there are still entrenched interests, the Blokker Group—through its ownership of retail brands such as Bart Smit, Toys "R" Us, and Intertoy—still controls 90 percent of the toy market, and magazine distribution is largely in the hands of just two distributors, Aldipress and Betapress, Lafebre is convinced that this is a market shift that will prove to be permanent. "Although the economy is now getting better, and consumers definitely have more money, and are willing to spend that money on brands and quality products, they increasingly value the convenience of one-stop shopping." Lafebre also believes this explains the "higher sales volume recently on online shopping."

This increase in online sales is attested to by Nickelodeon and Viacom's establishment of a licensed Nickelodeon online shop for the Netherlands and Belgium, which, says Lafebre, "should launch by the end of the summer at the latest."

This increasing importance of the online sector in Dutch retail might have other drivers apart from consumer desire for convenient shopping. In its report, "Retailing In The Netherlands," Euromonitor notes that "one of the main constraints on existing and potential players in the Dutch retail sector is space limitations."

This is an observation with which Lafebre is in full agreement. "Shops in the Netherlands," she says, "have very limited floor space, and there are hardly any hypermarkets, so products and licenses have to be really special to be bought by a retailer. Indeed, it is not unheard of for suppliers to buy shelf space."

But she also thinks that what sells well depends on "the license, the target group, and the main driver." Citing two well-known properties from the Nickelodeon stable,

Dora

and

SpongeBob

, Lafebre observes that, "

Dora

follows a more traditional pattern: toys, publishing, home video, and apparel, while

SpongeBob

is selling well in promotions, publishing, and gifts, and is also selling very well in supermarkets."

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