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Action group wants to buy Hema chain

26 March 2007 - With the help of consumers, the Clean Clothes Campaign (SKK) wants to buy the Hema department store chain. In this way, the organisation wants to obtain better supervision of labour conditions at companies that manufacture Hema products.

According to the organisation, these products are “probably made by people who are being exploited”. Coordinator Floris de Graad: “We have been in contact with Hema before because we think their policy can be improved. That is not to say that Hema is worse than the others, for that is not the case”.

Last week, it was announced that Hema is for sale for an estimated one billion euro. Owner Maxeda is not necessarily looking for the highest bidder, but wants a Dutch buyer who will respect the company’s identity. The SKK website: “Maxeda wants the ‘right owner’, who in addition should be full of ambition. That is us!”

SKK calls on consumers to register as a prospective buyer of a Hema share. If a billion euro can be collected - about sixty euros per inhabitant of the Netherlands - it will be tried to buy the company.

This means that for now, people can register as prospective buyers without running any real risk? “Yes, of course we do count on people who make promises to pay up when it all works out. But for now the risks are indeed limited, that is of course also because we want to lower the barrier”.

If the campaign fails to raise a billion euro, still other actions may be organised. Ideas under consideration include pins, shopping bags (‘this shop is mine’), brainstorm evenings with active shareholders and visits to Maxeda.

“If the mailbox fills up with shows of adhesion of people saying, I also want to buy a share Hema when the moment is there, then of course that will be a reason to do more”, De Graad said.

The Hema was founded eighty years ago in Amsterdam as the Hollandse Eenheidsprijzen Maatschappij (Dutch Standard Prices Company). By now, it has stores in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Luxemburg, and employs 10,000 people.

It is no longer just renowned for its low prices. “While Hema remains the economic place to shop for basics, it’s also made a name for itself as a source of affordable, no-nonsense design objects - even their sale flyers are graphics’ classics”, TimeOut comments.

Hema claims to buy from 1,200 suppliers in over forty countries. “A sharp price is important, but not at the cost of anything. Issues such as reliability, integrity, continuity and good and safe labour conditions also count”, the organisation’s website says.

Hema is affiliated to the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), which supervises labour conditions. However, SKK claims that the efforts of BSCI are largely symbolic.

Register as a prospective Hema buyer here (enter name; amount in euros, e-mail address and remarks)


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