HEMA (Dutch pronunciation: [ɦeːmaː]; originally an acronym for Hollandsche Eenheidsprijzen Maatschappij Amsterdam, “Hollandic Standard Prices Company Amsterdam”) is a Dutch discount retail chain that started life as a dimestore. Hema has been owned by the British investment firm Lion Capital LLP since 2007. The chain is characterized by relatively low pricing of generic housewares, which are mostly made by and for the chain itself, often with original design.
The first HEMA opened in Amsterdam on 4 November 1926, set up by the Jewish owners of the luxury department store De Bijenkorf. Originally, as a price-point retailer at prime locations in town centers, goods were sold using standard prices (hence its name), with everything having a standard price of 10, 25 or 50 cents, and later also 75 and 100 cents. The relative economic boom in the Netherlands in the period 1900–1930 benefited HEMA.
During World War II, a number of Jewish employees (there were a relatively high number because of the Jewish roots of the company) were murdered by the Nazis, which is remembered yearly by laying a wreath on 4 May, the Dutch Remembrance of the Dead, at the head office.
After World War II, this model could not be sustained and the standard pricing system was abandoned. But a period of rapid expansion followed: now almost every town of any importance in the Netherlands has a HEMA. Locations carry a wide variety of goods, including clothing, food, bicycle equipment, gardening tools, and office supplies. In June 2007 Lion Capital bought the chain from Maxeda. In 2010, standard pricing was reintroduced.
In 2015, HEMA was for the 8th time in a row the most indispensable brand in the Netherlands.
Since the 1990s, HEMA has also expanded into neighbouring countries.
HEMA branches by country (2015):
Since 2009 HEMA has opened small versions of their stores in railway stations, at Schiphol Airport and in small villages in the Netherlands, as well as their first mini market.
HEMA employed in excess of 10,000 workers at over 500 stores by March 2011. HEMA opened its 700th store on 14 December 2015 at Central Station in Utrecht. It is also the tenth store of the retail chain on a Dutch railway station.
HEMA in Zandvoort, Netherlands
On 4 January 2014, HEMA’s CEO Ronald van Zetten announced that it would branch out to Spain and the UK opening the first stores within six months as well further expanding in France. The first Spanish store opened on 3 April on Calle Fuencarral in Madrid, and the first British store will be open in the Victoria Place shopping centre, next Victoria station in London on 12 June.