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Which retail chains do we see the most in the Dutch and Belgian streetscape?

Top 100 retail chains in Belgium and The Netherlands

Every year, Locatus draws up a Top 100 of retail chains for both the Netherlands and Belgium. Two neighbouring countries, which are quite similar in some respects. Both are not that big, and the languages are also closely related. However, their retail markets are very different in structure and development. This blog examines which retail chains are the most prominent in these two countries.

Top 10 compared

The Top 10’s based on the number retail outlets are completely different. In Belgium, the bank sector dominates the ranking, while in the Netherlands the number of banks has already fallen drastically. Rather than physical use of banks and currency, the Dutch have embraced payment by debit card and also telebanking.

In Belgium, too, the number of banks is declining more and more. A trend that will certainly continue. Thus, a lot of buildings from this sector will become vacant in the next few years.

In the Dutch Top 100, drugstore Kruidvat is the frontrunner. This drugstore chain is also gaining momentum in Belgium, entering their Top 25 last year. Zeeman is the only other Dutch multiple also to be found in the Belgian Top 25. Ranking in 22th place, Zeeman is just one spot above Kruidvat.

Looking at the retail floor space, another type of multiples seems to predominate. The scale of supermarkets, DIY superstores and home furnishing superstores play a major part in this. The only overlap in the Top 10’s of both countries are Lidl and Ikea.

In Belgium, the Top 10 based on retail floor space is much “greener” (more supermarket chains). However, the average floor space of supermarkets is comparable in both countries: 970 m² in the Netherlands and 957 m² in Belgium.

To what extent does the streetscape resemble each other?

Naturally, each country has its own local multiples. But more and more retail chains are moving across borders. On the first of January 2020 we saw the following overlap in retail chains in the Top 100.

Top 100 (outlets): 27 retail chains are the same

Top 100 (surface): 22 retail chains are the same

The larger chains (both in number of retail outlets and in retail floor space) are mostly domestically owned. What is more striking is that most of the chains that appear in both Top 100s originate in the Netherlands. A few examples: Action, Albert Heijn, C&A, Kruidvat and HEMA. European or American chains that appear in both Top 100s are H&M, Primark, ZARA, Ikea, McDonald’s, Domino’s, ALDI, Lidl and Decathlon.

Of course, there is more overlap between the Netherlands and Belgium regarding multiples in their streetscape. But these do not appear in both Top 100s.

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Gerard Zandbergen

Gerard Zandbergen is CEO of Locatus and frequently brainstorms with players on the retail market about the chances for the future. Locatus’ goal is to clarify the retail market, so that her clients have a candid overview of their risks and opportunities. Over 20 years of information forms the basis for this process.