C&A Europe faces up to tough retail future, names Alain Caparros new CEO
Rewe’s loss is C&A’s gain. Alain Caparros, the supermarket chain’s CEO, leaves this month and it was announced Wednesday that he will become European CEO at Dutch-German fashion retail giant C&A as of August 1.
It marks a major change for the under-pressure 2,000-store fashion retailer, which rarely gives the most senior executive roles to anyone outside of the founding Brenninkmeijer family. Caparros’s predecessor was Philippe Brenninkmeijer, who headed C&A Europe since 2015. He left the role last month and is taking up a new, as-yet-unspecified, post at the chain’s parent company Cofra Holding. Edward Brenninkmeijer, who leads the business in Brazil, Mexico and China, has been standing in as intern Europe CEO since his departure.
The exception to the family rule for Frenchman Caparros is understandable given his strong track record at Rewe and the huge challenges C&A faces. While Philippe Brenninkmeijer has repositioned it to improve its competitiveness in Europe and buck the downward sales trend, time are still tough and there have been store closures at the 176-year-old business. The company has also announced job losses adding up to more than 10% of the staff at its Düsseldorf HQ in Germany and at its Vilvoorde HQ in Belgium.
Caparros, who has been in his current role at Rewe since 2006, joins at a time when C&A is working to create an omnichannel strategy that will help it battle the onslaught of e-tailers like Zalando, Asos and Amazon. This comes at the same time as it’s facing intensified physical store competition from chains such as Primark, TK Maxx and American newcomer Saks Off 5th, all of which are growing in Europe.
Cofra Holding CEO Martijn Brenninkmeijer said he believes that in Alain Caparros the group has found the right leadership to ensure that the transformation of C&A Europe continues and to create a stronger business for the future. He also said he was grateful that Caparros had agreed to enter into exclusive talks with the firm about the role.
Caparros had announced earlier this spring that he would step down from his Rewe role 18 months before his official contract ended. The company already had a clear succession plan in place, with Lionel Souque waiting to become CEO, and the outgoing chief said it had completed its major strategic projects sooner than expected.
Meanwhile on Wednesday he said of his new job that the Brenninkmeijer family convinced him of their commitment to tackling the major challenges C&A faces and that they and he want to transform the business that has 60,000 employees in 21 countries.
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