The success story of HEMA in Madrid

By Melanie Hazenberg & Jantine Brandemann

HEMA opened its fourth store in November 2016 in Madrid, at Calle del Carmen. This Dutch own-branded store is continuing its expansion with a fifth store in Madrid – which is planned for 2017. But what makes this store so popular in this country?

Red, white and the typical HEMA font. You already recognize it miles away. Not only from the outside, but mostly inside you get the Dutchy, cozy feeling of being home. The first things you see is the Old Dutch candy like drop and stroopwafels. There are apparently no Spanish words that could translate those words, so they are being kept in the Dutch way. Just stroopwafels, that is Spanish enough. Long tables and high walls make this store a little different. But it really becomes unique due to the division in different worlds. On the wall, in the typical, bright blue HEMA colour, Cocina is written and you immediately know everything on the wall is about cooking. And it is true. Pans, cutlery and dishes are all on the cooking wall, including HEMA´s white, transparent mark on the back of the products. Apparently HEMA also exists in Spain.

For the ‘ordinary’ people
For the ones who do not know, HEMA is a well-known department store in The Netherlands. In 1926, HEMA was established by Leo Meyer and Arthur Isaac who were managers of The Bijenkorf, in those times an expensive department store for rich people. Meyer and Isaac wanted to found a department store for ´ordinary´ people because this was missing in The Netherlands. By means of finances from the Bijenkorf, they established HEMA. At November 4, 1926, the first shop opened. A few decades ago, HEMA went international and since April 1, 2014, the department store can be found in Madrid as well. Within two years’ time, more stores were being established in the main city of Spain.

HEMA surprises
Nowadays, HEMA has five stores in Spain: four of them in Madrid, and one in Barcelona. Maria Jésus Castro works at HEMA since it opened its first store in Madrid. She enjoys working in this new concept. “For the people in Spain, HEMA is inspirational and surprises every time with new products we Spanish people don´t know. We get blue store boxes with new HEMA stuff every week which we can put in our store. We are always surprised of how inspirational and different products of HEMA are compared to other products.”

A closed doorfoto-4
Although the front doors of Madrid’s HEMA stores are always closed, this is not necessary at all. There are always people going in and out. Maybe that is why the guard is standing before the door. However, HEMA does not need to be afraid they have no customers, especially not, when you look at the shops nearby. While HEMA receives twenty people in twenty minutes, two people looked in the stores next door in the same time. Quite a difference, don´t you think so? On the streets you only get positive answers on the question what people think about HEMA. “It is different than everything else”, “I like the Dutch Candy”, and “I come here for birthday presents”, are the answers. And that is true. Birthday presents are a big thing in HEMA Spain. People on Facebook are very enthusiastic about HEMA´s birthday presents. The hashtag #HEMANavidad has made many people smile. “I think it is such a big thing here because it is different and not Spanish. Except the birthday things, we also have other non-Spanish things. We have a lot of Dutch candy, but that’s the only typical Dutch stuff. We didn’t replace it with typical Spanish stuff because that is not part of HEMA’s concept”, according to Maria Jésus Castro.

The big difference you see comparing with the Dutch stores are the walls. Some of the walls stand a bit to the front, which is designed in line with the international store concept. This includes high walls and long tables with a small product range. HEMA Spain decided to get rid of the clothes and accessories HEMA sells in The Netherlands. But also the restaurant is not to be seen in these stores in Madrid. As this international store concept works so well in Madrid, HEMA would like to try this out in some pilot stores in The Netherlands as well. In this way, certain products attract more.

But not everything of this concept is great:  the famous HEMA sausage and tompouce unfortu
nately have disappeared in the Spanish stores, while this makes HEMA unique in The Netherlands. The typical HEMA ringtone that sometimes makes you crazy in The Netherlands also does not appear in Spain. If you´re Dutch you definitely will miss this.

Dutch candy
The products being sold by HEMA in Madrid are typical Dutch products like Jip & Janneke, characters who appear in famous foto-1
child books. Also Dutch food and candy is something that makes HEMA unique in Spain. Different than Dutch HEMA stores,
are for instance striped batteries which can be sold in HEMA Spain stores.

Unique inspiration store
Although HEMA is a unique inspiration store for Spanish people, Dutch people do miss a lot of typical HEMA products. The ringtone cannot be missing and the sausage is something HEMA is well-known for in The Netherlands. That cannot be missing right? To conclude, HEMA is unique and every country needs to set up its own unique HEMA store, with typical HEMA stuff.  In Madrid HEMA is an inspirational, powerful store and different than every other store but they need to add some things.  Then it will be perfect.