Dutch high street staple Hema booked better earnings figures over 2017, posting a €6m net profit, but high financing costs drove the department stores group into an overall net loss of €31m for the year, the Financieele Dagblad reported on Thursday.
The FD said Hema booked a net loss of only €4.7m in 2016. However the Amsterdam-based group paid more than €54m in interest charges last year, compared to just €500,000 in 2016.
The sharply higher financing fees were due to debt refinancing including early redemption of high-priced bonds. As a result, net debt for the group rose to €868m from €624m in 2016.
Hema’s revamp of its stores, however, is beginning to bear fruit. Hema’s owner Lion Capital of London is preparing the chain for a sale or a bourse listing. This led to the refinancing, the FD said.
Amsterdam-based Hema booked 2017 net profit of €6m on turnover of €1.2bn, reporting higher sales in all countries and across all major product categories. The group’s expansion has mostly been abroad where its 200 outlets are bigger than in the Netherlands and have separate departments such as beauty and cooking.
‘We opened more stores outside the Netherlands than ever before,’ chief executive Tjeerd Jegen said in a statement. ‘As such, the contribution of our international activities to our total result has further increased. We expect to accelerate our international expansion by opening stores in existing markets and in new ones, like Austria and the Middle East.’
A total of 25 new stores were opened last year, 20 of them in France, three in Spain, one in Belgium and one in Germany. Sales in France totalled €109m equaling those in Belgium and Luxembourg where the company has been active much longer.
Hema operates more than 700 stores in nine countries in two continents and has more than 11,000 employees.