|Founded||Early 20th century|
|Founder||Jan de Slegte|
Number of locations
De Slegte is a Belgium-based store chain that sells and buys new books (often excessive stock), secondhand books and study books. Between 1 July 2013 and 19 March 2014 De Slegte and another chain of boookstore, Selexyz, combined forces as the Solare. After Solare Nederland went bankrupt in 2014, the Belgian branches were bought back by the De Slegte family and change to their original names. Four branches in Belgium continue to operate, three branches in the Netherlands were added.
Until 2013: De Slegte
De Slegte was founded early 20th century by Jan De Slegte, a lamplighter in Rotterdam who bought and sold books as a side business. When his profession became obsolete, selling books became his main focus. His son joined and sold books on the street market. Throughout the 20th century, the business expanded and grew into a prominent book chain in the Netherlands and Flanders.
1992–2013: BGN and Selexyz
Boekhandels Groep Nederland was one of the larger chains of bookstores in the Netherlands, running 16 branches in Dutch cities, including historic bookstores such as Donner in Rotterdam, one of Europe's largest bookstores; and the Domicanen in Maastricht, located in a 13th-century Dominican church building and cited as an outstanding example of adaptive reuse. Originally, BGN bookstores carried their own name, in combination with the old BGN-logo.
In 2006 every store was rebranded to carry the Selexyz brand name followed by its individual name, for example, Selexyz Scheltema. In April 2012, Selexyz's holding company filed for bankruptcy and sold the chain to Dutch investment company ProCures for €3.5 million. Initially the stores continued at Selexyz.
The Selexyz operations were combined with those of the 26-store second-hand book store chain De Slegte into a new company, owned 60% by ProCures and 40% by the De Slegte family.
The combined company's new name, Polare, was introduced in June 2013. The Polare-name is an abbreviation from Stella Polare, the Northern Star, which was thought up as being a "guiding light" for the book-buying customers.
On January 28, 2014, Polare closed all its Dutch stores after having sailed into rough financial waters; as they -roughly translated- put it themselves, to "reassess their future strategy". On February 7, Polare filed for an extension of payment. Extensive talks with several large banks and the CB, formerly called Centraal Boekhuis, resulted in green light from some of the banks; but the CB (supplying every single Dutch bookstore) already had come into conflict with Polare about overdue payments in late January, and they effectively blocked the salvation-effort of the Polare chain.
Since 2014: De Slegte is back
Some of the Dutch stores restarted under previous names at old or new locations. The Belgian branches of Polare continued as De Slegte.
In 2020 there are 4 De Slegte bookstores in Belgium (Antwerp, Ghent, Leuven, and Mechelen) and 3 stores in the Netherlands (Amsterdam, Leiden, and Rotterdam).
- Anja Sieg, "Dutch book chain Selexyz files for bankruptcy", The Bookseller, March 29, 2012.
- Sean Dodson, "Top shelves", The Guardian, January 11, 2008.
- "Selexyz Dominicanen opens in Maastricht", Crossroads Magazine, November 20, 2006.
- Anja Sieg, "ProCures buys Selexyz bookshops", The Bookseller, April 10, 2012.
- "Boekhandels Selexyz en De Slegte heten voortaan Polare", NU.nl, June 21, 2013 (in Dutch).