Economy

Albert Heijn stops towel stunt after angry HEMA CEO

“This is apparently retail solidarity, in the midst of a lockdown where non-essential stores are closed and supermarkets are throwing non-essential non-food items into the ramshack.” With that post on LinkedIn, HEMA CEO Tjeerd Jegen is hitting Albert Heijn hard.

Jegen is furious because the supermarket chain offers two towels for the price of one.

Action canceled

Albert Heijn is apparently shocked by the fuss that has arisen. “The offers for regular non-food normally run for three weeks, but we have shortened the towel campaign to one week”, spokesman Anoesjka Apeslagh said in an email.

The offer was still visible on the Albert Heijn website this morning, but it should have been finished and it is now being removed, according to Apeslagh.

‘Be cautious’

Albert Heijn should have been more reserved, says Kitty Koelemeijer, professor of Marketing & Retailing at Nyenrode Business University. “Albert Heijn has already received a lot of extra turnover, partly because the catering industry is closed,” she says. “To clearly take advantage of this I find inconvenient to say the least.”

She does think this is a combination of circumstances. Albert Heijn will have planned the promotion long in advance, thinks Koelemeijer.

‘Hypocritical

Other retail experts lash out at Jegen and HEMA. “Hypocritical behavior”, says retail expert Paul Moers in Jegen’s message.

“A few weeks ago, HEMA itself also wanted to open during the lockdown. The story was that they sell rompers that are essential.”

‘Even non-collegial’

Moers believes that Jegen should first get HEMA in order. He blames him for bringing the chain to the brink of collapse by opening HEMAs abroad. Instead, Jegen should have focused on the Dutch stores, says Moers.

HEMA is a ‘nagging child’ with a CEO who behaves uncollegially by expressing himself in this way on LinkedIn, says Moers.

‘Not fancy’

It is not fancy of Jegen to mention people from the top of Albert Heijn and Ahold Delhaize in the message, according to retail expert Rupert Parker Brady.

He also doesn’t think it’s very stylish that Jegen accuses them of taking advantage of all non-essential stores being closed. Furthermore, supermarkets have been selling non-essential products for decades, he says. “If you continue that line, they would not be able to sell books or pans now.”

He says he can understand the frustration of HEMA, but he also points to Blokker who has employees deliver products that have been purchased in the webshop. HEMA does not do this. It would be wise for the chain to get started on this very quickly, says Parker Brady.

‘Click & collect’

A spokesperson for HEMA says that the chain is asking the cabinet to make it possible for customers to collect orders from the webshop by appointment.

“Hardware stores are allowed to do it and PostNL and other delivery companies are completely stuck,” said HEMA spokesman Frederike van Urk.

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