The Belgian-based retailer, which had bought 29 Toe Sjoes stores and 18 Von Vorst stores from the VVM Retail Group in April 2000 to move into the Dutch market, has decided to sell its 38 remaining stores in the country to the A.S. Watson Group, a subsidiary of the Hutchinson Wampoa group that is growing rapidly.

Brantano, which went public in 1997 when it took over 47 Shoe City stores in the UK, is thus pulling out of the Netherlands and placing all its bets on the British market, where its family store model has been more successful. Brantano intends to open 20 new stores annually in the UK, where it already has 135 units.

The company says its Dutch adventure didn’t go so well due to low consumer confidence in the past few years and because the market there is driven more by price than quality. Furthermore, the stores that Brantano had acquired in Holland are smaller than in other countries and located in downtown areas rather than in the suburbs.

The Dutch stores continued to record positive growth this year, but the profit generated by them was insufficient. A.S. Watson will pay Brantano a price that will cover all the costs related to the transfer of ownership. It roughly correspond to the remaining goodwill of €2.7 million attached to the Dutch operations of the group, which will be written off completely.