This is how the HEMA support club writes in a message to its supporters and is confirmed by CFO Ton van Veen from Jumbo, on behalf of the new owners of the department store.
In the announcement, the organization announces that it will publish so-called ‘HEMAs’ for the autumn. These are bonds with which money is borrowed from private individuals who love the department store.
Contrary to what was previously promised, participants do not get shares, but they lend money to the department store. The company will not itself issue shares to the fund. “HEMA borrows the money,” explains director Van Veen on behalf of the new owners of the department store.
No unscrupulous investors
The citizens’ initiative to support the department store arose last summer when HEMA was in bad weather. The company, which at the time was owned by investor Marcel Boekhoorn, did not meet its financial obligations and fell into the hands of its creditors. They put the store up for sale again.
To prevent HEMA from falling into the hands of investors who wanted to squeeze the last pieces of money out of the company, two citizens’ initiatives were formed. They planned to buy HEMA or take a large stake in the company.
When HEMA was eventually sold to investor Parcom and the Van Eerd van Jumbo supermarket family late last year, the organizations continued to try to acquire a stake in the department store. The union of the HENA Foundation has in recent years negotiated an agreement with the new owners.
In the first half of the year, the organization has stated in newsletters and articles about ‘deposit certificates for shares’ and ‘surplus shares’. As a shareholder, the participants could really buy a piece of HEMA, and thus could participate in discussions about, for example, the range or the sustainability strategy.
It was doubtful whether the new owners Parcom and the van Eerd family were so enthusiastic about this plan. At the beginning of this year, both she and HEMA themselves refused to respond to the plan. Last summer, the project appeared to have been delayed.
It now appears that participants in the citizens’ initiative do not receive shares or depository receipts at all. They are allowed to lend their money to the department store via a bond.
In addition, participants may not really participate for serious amounts. The maximum investment is 1000 euros.
It is also noteworthy that the bond loan does not – as usual – have a fixed interest rate. According to the support fund, the interest rate ‘depends on HEMA’s revenue development’.
Really something else
Retail expert Kitty Koelemeijer emphasizes that there is a ‘real difference’ between shares and bonds. “Apparently the new owners of HEMA like this better. It has enough to do with control. Bonds are much less intrusive and easier to handle than stocks.”
What is a bond?
A bond is a loan issued by companies or governments. The owner of a bond therefore owes money from such a company or state. The bondholder basically receives interest for this. The issuer must repay the borrowed money at the end of the term. Bonds can be negotiable.
The professor of marketing at Nyenrode estimates that the original plan ‘will go out and become a kind of loyalty initiative’.
Easier to shape
According to CFO Ton van Veen of Jumbo, speaking on behalf of the new owners Parcom and the Van Eerd family, bonds were chosen instead of equities because it was simply easier.
“It is very special that there is so much sympathy in the Netherlands and such a large fan base for a company. There are so many people who have something to do with HEMA and are even willing to invest in it. It would be a shame . to say; sorry, but now we are the owner and your initiative is no longer necessary. We had to come up with something for that. “
Because the support fund raises a relatively modest amount, according to Van Veen, it was difficult to pour it into the shareholding.
He expects HEMA fans together to account for ‘several million’, a small part of the total investment in the department store. “To put it bluntly: the consortium has invested 200 million euros in HEMA itself, and that includes 200 million in bank financing.”
According to Van Veen, the bonds have ‘found a way to embrace the involvement of so many people’.
HEMA itself says that they are happy with the solution they have found. “Of course, it’s pretty cool for a store if you have so many fans who want to stand up for the company,” says spokeswoman Frederike van Urk. “We would be crazy if those who do not give those fans a place. But issuing shares is not that simple.”
However, HEMA wants to give bondholders a certain degree of employee participation in the future. “We are currently sitting around the table with the Foundation to see how it can participate in the discussion on sustainability.”
No “piece of Hema”
Member of Parliament Mei Li Vos, one of the initiators, confirms that the support fund with loan construction will play a more modest role than in the original set-up.
“Last year it became clear that there was no more, partly due to the stricter rules and supervisory framework around shares. In August, the ball finally went through the church. In its current form, one can no longer talk about participants who ‘a piece HEMA’s purchase. “
Vos does not believe that the initiative is thus reduced to a loyalty program, as professor of marketing Koelemeijer says. “I do not agree with that. But yes, she is the retail expert.”