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In Meet the Buyers at Modefabriek we introduce you weekly to buyers of various multi-brand stores, sustainable stores and great boutiques. Modefabriek is always happy with the visit of the buying team of de Bijenkorf, who will also come next edition. We would like to introduce you to Ivo Keulen.
Ivo Keulen has been working for 6 years as a buyer for the Bijenkorf on the men's shoe package. He has been buying shoes for 15 years and no year has been the same. Last year was all about limiting the corona damage. According to Ivo, the closure of the physical stores in the most important month of the year, December, is disastrous and threw all plans upside down. For a buyer, it is the month in which the sale starts and the reduction of the old stock. At the same time, it is the festive month in which the first results of the new collections become visible and a buyer can switch gears. Building and dismantling was suddenly not possible. "The great thing is that the contact with our brands and suppliers became much more intense. What can we do to keep the situation sustainable for most. Not only hard negotiations, but also sustainable solutions with each other in search of new results."
De Bijenkorf has invested a lot in taking their online expansion abroad. Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria and France are now part of our sales markets. For me as a buyer, online has become a very important channel and in the past year I have studied this. Every market is different; what belongs to the top 3 in the Netherlands may not even make the top 10 in France.
It feels very valuable to me that I can contribute to a brighter future through my work by reducing our footprint on this earth. Working with shoes means working with leather, with chemicals, with rubber, with cotton, with metal, packaging, transport. An exciting product when it comes to sustainability, and therefore very instructive. As a buyer, I had to turn a switch that by selling less and make your product more durable, means more to this world. On the other hand, it is challenging to buy products that are of better quality, last longer and that consumers are happy with for a longer period of time.
Why is it relevant for you as a buyer to visit a trade fair like Modefabriek?
Trade shows are essential for me as a buyer. That's where the whole buying world comes together. They are places where trends arise, where contacts are made and cited. It is very pleasant to see, feel and experience everything together in one location. Trends like Utility boots, western boots, running sneakers, sandals, Chelsea boots, are trends I have spotted for the first time at a fair. In addition to Dutch brands, I also buy many brands abroad. Half of our collection of men's shoes is purchased in Milan and Paris. These luxury brands build collections with a global reach. The difference between Southern Europe and Northern Europe is already very big, let alone how big the differences are worldwide. It is therefore very necessary to keep a connection with the local market. This market is the largest market for de Bijenkorf and will always be the case. The past 1.5 years have shown how important this local market was with the absence of tourists. But it also showed how well we are attuned to this local market. And the fact that the Dutch consumer is a different consumer than that from our neighboring countries is reflected in our online results alone. So yes Modefabriek is an important platform for us.
What are you most looking forward to in the coming buying season?
After 1.5 years of digital purchasing, I'm most looking forward to buying on location and to physically seeing all my contacts again. There is a different energy on location and for me there is much more of a feeling that we believe in something together and are going to build on something. Digital purchasing also meant safer purchasing and for both buyers and brands a lot of focus on carry-over models. So I expect a lot of developments and a lot of new models. Seeing, touching and putting the product together as a concept is something I'm looking forward to again.