HEMA, Writing world history!

By Marleen Evertsz,
Published on November 23, 2020

The 15th of June marked a momentous day in The Netherlands. After announcing its financial pitfalls earlier this year, Dutch retail giant HEMA found itself facing the potential end of its existence. Since then, over 15,000 thousand fans have joined each other through citizens' initiatives ‘HoudeHEMA’ and ‘WeloveHEMA’, to advocate for HEMA’s survival, inspired by he retailers position as part of Dutch heritage.

What happened next is truly remarkable. Rather than simply voicing their concerns for HEMA’s longevity, these fans organized themselves and took real action by designing a new shareholder structure for HEMA that would flip traditional corporate financing models around, and that sees them becoming co-owners in the company.

Marleen Evertsz, CEO and Co-founder of tokenized securities and digital asset trading platforms Nxchange and GoldRepublic

Are we seeing the future of business ownership?

HEMA’s ownership would be opened up to its fan base consisting of citizens, employees, franchise owners, real estate owners, connected SMEs, private investors, and local governments. Each of these stakeholders already have their vested interests in HEMA, ranging from the desire for high-quality products, to the need for good contracting. As these interests far outweigh purely financial needs, stakeholders will evaluate their HEMA ownership on a broader and more long-term basis.

In terms of its execution, the prospective HEMA shareholders are raising funds through what is known as a Special Purpose Acquisition Company (“SPAC”). In the world of finance, SPACs are the new kids on the block. Despite being around since the 80s, this IPO fundraising hit a record $13.6 billion in 2019. However, this SPAC sets itself apart from the SPACs we have seen so far. Instead of serving as a blank-check company, set-up and underwritten by private equity firms or financial institutions to be offered to the public at a later stage (mostly at a higher price), this SPAC was initiated by the public with a clear acquisition target, the HEMA.

Good buyers and Grasshoppers in the bright lights of public attention

With the SPAC launched, the only step left is to actually be able to acquire a part of the HEMA. Not an easy task if you take into account that HEMA is currently a privately owned business held by a group of Senior debt holders who have only one interest: the highest possible return on their HEMA bonds investment.

Over the last months many acquirers took place at the negotiation table with the senior bond holders and current owners of the retailer. These acquirers spanned a wide range, from established professional parties that the fans would love to see acquiring HEMA to - euphemistically speaking - “less desired” possible future owners of HEMA that would only be after the last assets of HEMA - not taking its future into the equation. Needless to say that the fans of HEMA were relieved when the van Eerd family and Parcom announced that they have signed a conditional deal with HEMA bondholders.

Closer than ever before

If the acquisition of HEMA by van Eerd / Parcom succeeds you could say that that part of the goal of the HEMA fan base is achieved taking into account that this combination is expected to support a sustainable future for HEMA.

However the acquisition is expected to cost around € 440 million of which a major part entails the refinancing of the current debt position of HEMA. This debt could be financed through the traditional channels at institutional investors. However it can be expected that the macro-economic situation and Covid-19 does not make this an easy assignment for the potential future owners of HEMA.

Will they reach out to the expected financing channels or will they also consider reaching out to the HEMA fans and further explore how brand loyalty and stakeholder inclusion can help funding HEMA’s future with capital from investors that want more than just a financial return on investment as an upside to their portfolio?

THIS is what is called (the real) Loyalty 2.0

Put yourselves in HEMA’s shoes: what would your future look like when a sound, professional shareholder and a very strong fan base become your owner? Where intentions are aligned between the owners and HEMA’s most valuable asset - its extremely loyal customers. Where both debt and equity can partially be financed in a more hybrid model using the existing governmental support, professional capital and the enormous fan base of HEMA.

Financing businesses is actually really simple. People who are able to do so, can lend money to a company so that it can invest, improve and renew. Better turnover and profit can be achieved, whereby employees are well paid and customers can buy beautiful, solid items for a fair price. Thepeople who lent the money receive a decent interest or dividend.

Marleen Evertsz

CEO and Co-Founder Marleen Evertsz has a proven track record in leading innovative fintech companies. Being at the forefront of digitizing and trading physical assets with GoldRepublic since 2010, Marleen is now dedicated to building fully regulated, trading platforms for issuing and listing tokenized securities and digitized assets on Nxchange and GoldRepublic in close collaboration with European regulators, ABN Amro Clearing bank and the Rabobank.

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Tokenized securities and digitized assets are our thing at GoldRepublic and Nxchange. We have been dealing with trading these assets and allowing institutional and retail investors taking positions in these assets for over 10 years now.

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