Hobo, at the time the largest hi-fi chain in the Netherlands with 15 specialty stores, went bankrupt in the fall of 2014. Owners Rogier and Menno Gülicher managed to continue with five stores, but lost most of their business.
In 2018, they announced that they were going to court with a claim of 8 million euros against Rabobank. According to the entrepreneurs, their house bank had caused the damage by pulling the plug on the retail business far too quickly.
The entrepreneurs accused Rabobank of having committed ‘a robbery’ by suddenly turning off the money tap during the discussions about the future plans, claiming the debts and emptying the shops.
This would have been unnecessary because Hobo Hi-Fi would have fulfilled its financial obligations and the bank would have sufficient collateral.
Rabo not careless
A ruling by the Amsterdam court that was made public on Friday shows that the Hobo owners recently lost their case. According to the judge, ‘Rabobank did not act carelessly when it terminated the credit’.
The judge finds it understandable that Rabobank pulled the plug from the financing in order to retain control. The bank also did not have to observe a notice period.
Rabobank has announced that it will not comment on the matter. “We cannot make any statements about matters relating to customers,” said spokesman Eric Lagerwey. The entrepreneurs’ lawyer, Mark Murris, was unavailable for an explanation.
Hobo van Hofboer and Boellaard
Hobo Hifi was founded in 1975 by entrepreneurs John Hofboer and Fred Boellaard, and named after the first letters of their surnames. After their first stores in Arnhem and Apeldoorn, Hobo slowly grew into a chain of specialty stores that mainly sold exclusive sound equipment.
In 2007, the then owner sold Hobo to entrepreneurs Rogier and Menno Gülicher, who merged the company with their own five stores. For example, the number of stores grew to 13. In the years that followed, Hobo continued to grow, to 17 stores at its peak.
But in 2013 Hobo Hi-Fi ran into financial trouble when the market for expensive audio equipment collapsed. After the bankruptcy in 2014, the company made a restart in a leaner form. Hobo still has offices in Amersfoort, Apeldoorn, Arnhem, Den Bosch and The Hague.