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C&A to close several Belgian city-centre stores to reduce costs
Fashion retailer C&A has announced plans to close eight of its city-centre stores in Belgium, in the face of rising rents and costs, to focus on smaller out-of-town outlets.
The group described the move as a "modernisation strategy". C&A has already closed about 20 stores in the past five years.
Shops in Lier, Hasselt and Tongeren have recently shut down and the closure of the Mol branch is expected to follow shortly.
"Shops in city centres have high rents," a spokesperson told De Tijd. "C&A stores are often too big - they're megastores with four floors."
C&A has already made 80 redundancies in the past year, including about 40 job cuts from the 400-strong team working at the company's Belgian headquarters in Vilvoorde.
The cutbacks come as the retailer is faced with competition from e-commerce rivals such as Zalando and discount chains including Primark.
"We haven't been told which stores are affected," a spokesman for the ACV trade union said. "They say they are adapting their portfolio of stores to better meet customers' needs."
The union said it was being consulted on the changes and had received reassurances that staff in the affected stores would be found work elsewhere in the company.
C&A is not the only fashion retailer making cutbacks. According to De Tijd, H&M has also closed stores in Antwerp and Brussels in recent years and Zara has shut outlets in Mechelen and Turnhout. JBC closed 16 stores in 2020 and shoe retailer Bristol has shut down 55 branches in the past five years.
"The next 12 months are going to be painful in this sector," one Belgian fashion entrepreneur told the paper.