Google buy more land in the Netherlands, may build new data centre

Google's parent company Alphabet has bought 70 hectares of land in Noord-Holland province, which it may use to develop a new data centre, business news agency Bloomberg said on Friday. The company told Bloomberg it is still considering what to do with the site, but that a decision will be made soon. The location of the land was not given but it is thought to be close to Amsterdam. Google already has a major data centre in Eemshaven in the north of Groningen and said earlier this year it would spend €500m to expand its operations there. In May, the Dutch Data Centre Association warned that the shortage of electricity in areas where data centres are concentrated is threatening the industry’s expansion in the Netherlands. The situation is particularly acute around Amsterdam ‘where expanding the electricity grid is no longer possible,’ the association said. The Netherlands needs to develop an emergency plan or the country’s position as a ‘digital leader’ will be under threat, DDA director Stijn Grove said.  More >

Hand knit company Granny's Finest to close

A not-for-profit company known as Granny's Finest is shutting down operations after seven years of selling hand knits to the general public, business broadcaster RTL Z said on Thursday. Almost 900 'grannies and granddads' had knitted scarfs, hats and jumpers for the foundation and the Bijenkorf was among its outlets, the broadcaster said. In a letter to knitters, the organisers say that they have been advised to file for bankruptcy. 'This means we have to stop the great adventure that has been Granny's Finest,' the letter says. The letter lists a number of reasons why the company failed: it was too seasonally-based, logistics costs were high and the production process too slow. Founder Niek van Hengel declined to give further details to RTL Z apart from to say the company has not yet filed for bankruptcy. The webshop is still online. Fellow founder Jip Pulles, who came up with the idea as a graduation project, also declined to comment. Granny's Finest is a non-profit foundation and the knitters were not paid for their services. Scarves sold for around €60 and blankets for €134, RTL Z said. The foundation was established in 2011 with 20 knitters - the idea was to give people living in pensioners homes something to do with their days and to counteract loneliness.  More >

Louboutin wins Dutch red sole case

Dutch shoe retail group Van Haren has lost its lengthy EU legal battle with luxury shoe group Louboutin over the use of distinctive red soles on women's footwear. Louboutin started the legal action in 2012, when Van Haren brought out a range of shoes by actress Halle Berry which included high heeled shoes with red soles. The French company said the shoes infringed the Louboutin trade mark and was granted a temporary injunction against the Dutch high street staple. In 2014 the case was referred to the European court for clarification and last year, advocate general Maciej Szpunar said in his advice to the court that it should find in Van Haren's favour in a complicated ruling about shape and colour. Under EU law, shapes cannot be registered as trademarks and Van Haren argued that the soles of shoes are therefore not trademarked. However, the court has gone against the recommendations of the advocate general and found in favour of the French brand. The EU court has 'confirmed that the legal regime governing shape trademarks does not apply to Christian Louboutin's red sole mark,' the French company said in a statement. The case will now be referred back to The Hague court for its final ruling.    More >

German stores withdraw Dutch fipronil eggs

Around 73,000 Dutch eggs have been withdrawn from German supermarkets after they were found to be contaminated with the pesticide fipronil. The eggs were supplied by a Dutch biological farm to supermarkets in six German states, NOS reported. The German agriculture ministry said there was no risk to public health. Last year Dutch eggs exported to 45 countries were found to contain fipronil, which is used on poultry farms to destroy fleas, ticks and lice, but is banned by the European Union in products for human consumption. The insecticide was traced to a small poultry firm called Chickfriend, whose owners are being prosecuted for endangering public health. Two weeks ago a poultry farmer from Overijssel had to destroy his flock of 3,000 chickens and 45,000 eggs that were ready for distribution after fipronil was found on his farm. Around 100 agricultural firms are still banned from trading because traces of the chemical have been found in their chicken waste.  More >

Halbe Zijlstra to the World Bank?

Former foreign minister Halbe Zijlstra may be a candidate to be the next Dutch representative to the World Bank, the AD said on Tuesday, citing diplomatic sources. The paper says prime minister Mark Rutte is keen to nominate Zijlstra for the role but that there are objections to the appointment from both other politicians and the diplomatic service. Zijlstra was forced to step down as minister after it emerged he had lied about being at the dacha of Russian president Vladimir Putin while working for Shell. No decision has yet been taken about the appointment. 'I hope it won't come to that,' one source told the paper. The paper says finance minister Wopke Hoekstra is opposed to the nomination because Zijlstra has little experience of the financial world.  More >