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Dutch-born C&A, which has European headquarters in both Belgium and Germany, is proposing a plan that will involve job losses due to key operations being centralised.

The proposed changes will impact a number of roles across the European business. C&A says in an official statement it is committed to working to support employees who might potentially be affected in each market. This process will take place in accordance with all local and country regulations.

“Proposed changes like these are never easy to consider,” C&A chief executive Giny Boer says. “And we are committed to working closely with our social partners, participating in an open dialogue, and moving through this process together, with the utmost respect for our potentially affected team members.”

C&A believes the new operations plans, which also include significant investments in digital solutions, will ensure it is prepared to serve its customers in the future.

The changes, it says, are necessary to lay the groundwork for future growth because it believes the fashion market is “radically changing.” The ultimate aim is to run an agile and fast-functioning retail business that can adapt at speed to the evolution taking place in the marketplace.

The company hopes the changes will lead to a simpler operational model that will improve decision-making, organisational processes, and efficiency.

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Boer adds: “In today’s market, it is imperative that we consider positioning ourselves for success with a modern approach in our stores and a stronger digital offering, attuned to what our consumers need and be ready to serve them. This is a great company and we plan to adapt our organisational structure, to one which is more dynamic, more collaborative, more modern, and fit for the future.”

In its statement, the retailer says the Covid-19 pandemic had a significant impact on all retailers, including C&A, adding it believes a blended digital and offline approach is critical.

As such, it has proposed a plan it says could lead to a number of organisational changes across Europe that would allow the company to reposition itself to better serve consumers today and in the future. An important piece of this proposed approach would be a significant planned investment into digital solutions aimed at ensuring C&A’s business can be re-shaped in line with business priorities to improve the consumer experience by serving their needs just as effectively online, as in stores.

It envisions a new organisational structure built around the divisions merchandise and sustainability, operations, digital and consumer, selling and markets, finance and IT, people and culture, and corporate communications and fashion PR.

These divisions would operate within a new centralised framework aiming for closer alignment and collaboration between European head offices and national head offices across four proposed markets: Germany, Central Eastern Europe, Benelux, and Southern Europe.

C&A operates close to 1,400 stores in 18 European countries and has about 23,000 employees.

Earlier this year, the retailer shared its global sustainability targets as part of its 2028 Global Sustainability Strategy designed to encourage customers to make more sustainable choices.