Lion Capital sells Dutch retailer HEMA to Dutch billionaire: Reuters

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – HEMA, one of the Netherlands’ largest retail chains, said on Thursday it will be bought for an undisclosed sum by investment firm Ramphastos Investments, owned by Dutch billionaire Marcel Boekhoorn.

HEMA, bought by London-based Lion Capital in 2007, operates more than 700 stores in nine countries, selling over 30,000 own brand products ranging from baby clothing to stationery, food and gardening tools.

“With its new owner, HEMA can focus fully in the next few years on online growth, international expansion and improving

profitability”, the company said in a statement.

Lion Capital started looking for a buyer for HEMA over a year ago, after an earlier effort to offload the retailer failed in 2010.

HEMA has been struggling to compete with discounters and online shops for years. Although its sales rose 3.5 percent last year to 1.24 billion euros ($1.43 billion), its net loss increased to 31 million euros, while gross debt ran up to 753 million.

Dutch media reported in June that Belgian investor Core Equity had dropped a bid of 1 billion euros, including debt, as it disagreed with store franchise operators over how to split revenue from the company’s online store.

HEMA opened its first store in Amsterdam in 1926 and has since branched out across Europe. Earlier this year it opened its first store outside the continent, in the United Arab Emirates, but it still generates roughly three quarters of its revenues in the Netherlands.