Greg Nieuwenhuys, chief executive at Bever, the leading Dutch outdoor retailer, is starting from Jan. 4 as chief executive at Outdoor & Cycle Concepts, which formally brings together Cotswold Outdoor, Snow & Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need, as described above. These British retailers and Bever are all part of the AS Adventure Group, which further comprises A.S. Adventure in Belgium, Luxembourg and France.
Nieuwenhuys is effectively taking over from Hans Falkenburg, who has been Cotswold Outdoor's chief executive since 1997, turning it into a leading U.K. outdoor retailer with 72 stores and sales of more than £125 million (€170.4m-$186.0m). With the initial integration of Snow & Rock on the rails, Falkenburg is retiring to spend more time on interests ranging from family to history, arts and the outdoors.
The chief executive's seat at Bever, occupied by Nieuwenhuys for more than four years, is to be taken over by Pieter Saman, currently marketing and omni-channel director at Bever. Saman's job will go to Daniel Peters, omni-chanel manager at Bever.
Nieuwenhuys joined the AS Adventure group as head of strategy and acquisitions in 2009 and became assistant chief executive at Bever a few months later, to take over as chief executive in May 2011. He previously worked as an analyst at Goldman Sachs and Royal Dutch Shell, and a project manager at OC&C Strategy Consultants, but he has long been intensely involved in outdoor sports. Among other achievements, Nieuwenhuys was the Dutch national champion in ski mountaineering for two years. Nieuwenhuys has been implementing far-reaching adjustments in the Dutch retailer's store concept as well as a strong move into omni-channel retailing.
The entire AS Adventure group's turnover of about €383 million with 151 stores made it the largest in Europe last year – and that standing was reinforced by the acquisition of the Snow & Rock Group earlier this year, which raised sales to a range of €550 million. The AS Adventure group's comparable store sales increased again in all three of its largest markets this year, although it hasn't been helped by the mild weather across Europe in the last weeks.
The Netherlands delivered the strongest growth, as Bever continues to reap the benefits of the changes in its store concept – with store displays and products that are meant to appeal to a wider audience. The Dutch retailer's sales apparently increased at a low double-digit rate after the refurbishment of its stores in Leiden and Houten. Bever hasn't scheduled any openings in the Netherlands in the short term but it should continue to relocate and refurbish stores.
The comparable store sales increase was lower in Belgium, where the group runs A.S. Adventure stores along with two The North Face stores. The company added a multi-brand store in Lommel, in the province of Limburg, raising the number of A.S. Adventure stores to 41 for Belgium.
Then again, A.S. Adventure shuttered one of its two stores in France earlier this month. The company was disappointed with traffic at the location in Metz, which failed to come off the ground after three years. Unlike the store in Metz, the A.S. Adventure store in Reims is profitable and will remain open, but the company apparently isn't rushing to expand in France, despite the takeover of a majority stake earlier this year by PAI Partners, a French private equity firm.
Separately, the retail group opened two fashion stores trading as Juttu in Antwerp and Bruges, with a mix of edgy yet affordable brands that all have a special story. Among the 60 brands on offer, only a handful are from the outdoor business, such as Patagonia, Fjällräven, Haglöfs and Vaude.