C&A

Categories

Retail and Consumer Goods  
Summary

C&A is an interesting global retailer that serves families on a budget. Ever since its opening by brothers Clemens and August in 1841, C&A has been at the forefront of fashion. From making 'ready-to-wear'? a thing when custom-made was the norm, to popularising miniskirts in the Sixties, introducing the Com-bi-kini in the Sevnties, Bio Cotton in early 2000 and the first Cradle-to-Cradle Gold certified garment in 2017 it has always evolved with the times.  The department store aspires for a future fashion industry that is more innovative and sustainable; one that has moved towards a circular future, and promotes a cycle of use, reuse and rebirth of clothing.


History

Brothers Clemens and August's ancestors left the family farm in 1671 to sell linen as travelling merchants. It was in Mettingen in the 1830s that young boys Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer were apprenticed to learn their trade. In 1841, with a loan from their father, the brothers opened textile firm C&A Brenninkmeijer in the small town of Sneek. Living above the stockroom, they took their quality, ready-to-wear clothing from farm to farm and eventually the first store opened in 1860. In 1910 Dutch retailer C&A Brenninkmeijer had ten stores in the Netherlands.

The emergence of sewing machines brought with it an era of readymade apparel and C&A soon offered it in different sizes. This proved to be popular with customers and shortly, a store opened in Leeuwarden and two in Amsterdam. At this point, the brothers passed the business down to the next generation, who began selling ladies' coats at affordable prices

It wasn't long before the business acumen that was democratising fashion in Holland began showing good results in Germany and a store opened in Berlin in 1911. it wasn't all smooth sailing though. Post- WWII growing back the business in Germany was priority. Building on its principles of creativity and hard work, C&A evolved to slowly become one of Germany's largest retailers.

The following decades saw the company expand in Europe, Brazil, Mexico and China. Per Forbes, ''Since the company does not want to release any figures to the Dutch government, in 2001 the operations of all countries were consolidated into Cofra Group, a holding company headquartered in Zug, Switzerland.'' 

However, its strategy of retailing budget apparel from high-rent centrally located retail stores made it vulnerable to retailers in out-of-town locations, clothing operations of supermarket food chains and high street brands. In the twentieth century, C&A withdrew from the UK and Argentina while C&A China competed with high street brands H&M and Zara. On 14 January 2018, Der Spiegel reported on its website that C&A management was considering selling the company to a Chinese investor. 

In a company release, Cofra Holding AG said that they "remain fully committed to a successful, future-proof C&A business and as such at C&A we have embarked on a transformation and growth program." Without mentioning the sale, they added: "The ongoing transformation of C&A includes an investigation of ways to accelerate in high growth priority areas such as China, emerging markets and digital, and that could potentially include partnerships and other types of additional external investment."

What began as a two-man operation in 1841 is today one of Europe's leading fashion companies. C&A cares for sustainable fashion just as deeply as it did in the little town of Sneek. By 2020, a majority of garments were made from sustainable materials; the supply network achieved zero discharge of hazardous chemicals; and the management engaged in dialogue with suppliers about programs that would improve workers' livelihoods, secure safer working conditions and increase suppliers' productivity. Its new slogan "Wear the change" points to this focus on sustainability and the retailer emphasises its continued efforts to keep prices down too.


Mission

To support programmes and initiatives that will transform fashion into a fair and sustainable industry that enables everyone, from farmer to factory worker, to thrive.

 


Vision

The department store aspires for a future fashion industry that is more innovative and sustainable; one that has moved towards a circular future and promotes a cycle of use, reuse and rebirth of clothing. Per the official website: "We believe that business can be a force for good. Thus sustainability plays an important role in our One C&A Growth Plan. To contribute positively and reduce negative impacts we are pursuing a comprehensive sustainability strategy in which we have clearly defined environmental and social goals. To reach those goals we are also building alliances, work closely with industry partners and start-ups."


Key Team

Giny Boer (CEO)

Birgit Kretschmer (CFO)

Jason Morgan (CCO)

Betty Kieß (Chief Communications Officer)


Recognition and Awards
C&A is recognised for many 'firsts' from making 'ready-to-wear' a thing when custom-made was the norm, to popularising miniskirts in the Sixties, introducing the Com-bi-kini in the Seventies, Bio Cotton in early 2000 and the first Cradle-to-Cradle Gold certified garment in 2017.

Products and Services

C&A wants everyone to feel good about themselves every day. That’s what inspired the department store in 1841 as well as today. At that time the company pioneered ready-to-wear, quality fashion at affordable prices. It still guides them today. The C&A New Retail Experience is the latest C&A innovation to reflects its belief that everyone has the right to look and feel good every day.


References
C&A
Leadership team

Giny Boer (CEO)

Birgit Kretschmer (CFO)

Jason Morgan (CCO)

Betty Kieß (Chief Communications Officer)

Industries

Retail and Consumer Goods

Headquarters
GmbH & Co. KG Wanheimer Strasse 70. D-4046
Company Registration
DE 21929517
Traded as
CEAB3.SA
Social Media

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Sun Mar 03 2024
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