|Founder||Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer|
|Much of Continental Europe, Brazil, China and Mexico|
|Alain Caparros (CEO)|
Knut Bruggemann (Executive)
Thorsten Rolfes (Executive)
|Revenue||US$8.1 billion (2010)|
Number of employees
|Parent||Cofra Holding AG|
C&A is a Dutch multinational of retail clothing stores, with European head offices in Vilvoorde, Belgium, and Düsseldorf, Germany. It has retail stores in many European countries and also in Brazil, China and Mexico. C&A's brands include Angelo Litrico, Avanti, Canda, Clockhouse, Here+There, Palomino, Rodeo (ski and snowboard clothes), Westbury, Yessica, Yessica Pure and Your Sixth Sense.
The Brenninkmeijer family owns the C&A group through its Swiss company Cofra Holding AG. The company's success has led the family to be among the wealthiest in the Netherlands, even though the Brenninkmeijer family live in Geneva and Zug, Switzerland.
The company was founded, in Sneek, by the brothers Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer in 1841 as a Dutch textile company, taking its company name from their initials. In 1906, Clemens' son, Bernard Joseph, started discounting in Amsterdam and, by 1910, there were ten stores in the Netherlands. These were from the German Brenninkmeyer family that had traded in linen and textiles since the 17th century from its home town of Mettingen, Germany.
For many years, C&A retail clothing stores were a major presence in town centres throughout the United Kingdom. C&A also opened stores in a number of out-of-town locations, such as its store at the Merry Hill Shopping Centre in the West Midlands, which opened in November 1989. The company's strategy of selling budget clothes from high-rent city-centre retail stores made it vulnerable to a new breed of competitors operating in cheaper, out-of-town locations, including Matalan and the rapidly expanding clothing operations of supermarket food chains such as Tesco and Asda, and to expanding high street names such as H&M, Zara and Topshop. C&A in the United Kingdom was a notable example of an incorporated private unlimited company, which meant that it was not required to publish its financial statements under United Kingdom company law. In 2000, C&A announced its intention to withdraw from the British market, where it had been operating since 1922, and the last UK retail stores closed in 2001. Primark bought 11 of the C&A stores.
In June 2009, the company withdrew from the Argentinian market. C&A China competes with main clothing companies such as H&M and Zara.
On 14 January 2018, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported that C&A's owners were considering selling the company to an unnamed Chinese investor. In a statement, Cofra Holding AG said that they "remain fully committed to a successful, future-proof C&A business and as such at C&A we have embarked on a transformation and growth program". Without directly mentioning the sale, it added, "The ongoing transformation of C&A includes an investigation of ways to accelerate in high growth priority areas such as China, emerging markets and digital, and that could potentially include partnerships and other types of additional external investment."
On 20 August 2020, C&A sold C&A China to Zhongke Tongrong Private Equity to operate the stores in a franchise system.
In December 2021, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights filed a criminal complaint in a Dutch court against C&A and other brands, alleging that it benefited from the use of forced Uyghur labor in Xinjiang.
Number of C&A stores:
- 1,328 (2022)
- China: 83 (2020)
In popular culture
United Kingdom ska act The Specials referenced the store in "Man at C&A" on the 1980 album More Specials. The phrase "Man at C&A" was later used to typify someone who was unfashionable. In an episode of the sitcom Only Fools and Horses, Del Boy tells his brother Rodney that when they become millionaires, their clothes will "come from Man at C&A". The Belle and Sebastian song "Expectations" features a character who is given the choice between working at Debenhams and C&A "cause that's what they expect".
In June 2022, it was discovered that “C&A Serbia”, operated by COFRA Group from Switzerland had been smuggling Chinese goods into the country for almost seven years which damaged the budget of Serbia by six million €. The company’s press release said that C&A was “the target of organized customs fraud committed by unknown perpetrators”. “The perpetrators systematically performed over 300 fraudulent acts violating Serbian customs regulations. Affected by this decision are 14 stores and about 135 employees in Serbia. This situation is very specific and applies to Serbia only,” said the company. C&A is now in process of closing all of its stores in Serbia and leaving the country.
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- "C&A – a success story". C&A. Archived from the original on 4 March 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
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- Salden, Simone (14 January 2018). "C&A steht offenbar vor Verkauf an Chinesen" [C&A is apparently on sale to Chinese]. Der Spiegel (in German). Hamburg. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
- "C&A AG sells its China operations to Zhongke Tongrong Private Equity". c-and-a.com. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
- Adegeest, Don-Alvin (6 December 2021). "Nike, Patagonia named in European lawsuit as being complicit in 'forced labour' practices in Xinjiang, China". FashionUnited. Retrieved 9 December 2021.
- "Locations". c-and-a.com. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
- "C&A Global Sustainability Report 2020" (PDF). c-and-a.com. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
- Cope, Nigel (16 June 2000). "C&A, a sad tale of the high-street store that went from Coats and 'Ats to Closure and Acrimony". The Independent. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- "C&A closes UK doors for last time". BBC News. 31 May 2001. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- "Man at C&A". slang-dictionary.com. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 20 December 2012.
- "C&A closing stores in Serbia: We are a target of fraud". N1 (in Serbian). 6 July 2022. Retrieved 8 July 2022.