Hajar Hajji, 41, will be the new CEO of Action. She started her career with the series at the age of 17, as a shelf filler.
The fast-growing Dutch retail chain Action has got a new leader. Sander van der Laan (53), who has increased the chain’s sales volume from 2 to 5.6 billion euros in the past six years, will hand the helm in January to commercial director Hajar Hajji (41). It should direct the retail chain to a turnover of 10 billion euros within four years. The number of stores should increase from more than 1,700 today to 3,000.
- Action acquires a new CEO: Hajar Hajji.
- She began her career in Action 24 years ago, at the age of 17, as a rack filler.
- She rose through the ranks and held the position of Commercial Director for the past three years.
- I’ve tried e-commerce, among other things. Digital sales will become a priority for the retail chain in the coming years.
It is written in the stars that Action will travel to more countries under the rule of Hajj. The first outlets will open in Spain next year. Last year, Action went to Italy and the Czech Republic. The chain is now active in nine countries in Europe. Since 2005 also in Belgium, where last year twelve stores were added. There are now 200 Belgian stores.
Served in the bakery
Born and raised in Amsterdam, Hajji knows the retail chain inside and out, having worked there since she was 17. She has been a commercial manager for the past three years. Prior to that, she was responsible for Action Stores outside the Netherlands for seven years.
It may not have occurred to the young Hajji that she would reach the highest female in the chain when she was looking for a temporary job. She had stopped her studies in educational social sciences and wanted to earn some money before starting a new one. She applied for a job in a bakery, in a supermarket and in Action, she told the trade newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad a year ago. The work was the first to respond.
The company’s one-woman has evolved in 14 years from shelf filler to board member. The outside world learned about her at the start of the Corona pandemic, when she put a knife into the throats of Action’s suppliers. Action saw a sharp drop in its sales because many stores were forced to close by order of the government. Al-Hajj informed the suppliers in a letter that they would not receive their money until after 90 days instead of the already generous 60-day period. I later apologized for that.
The business suffered greatly due to the crisis, but it held. Last year, store sales fell 1.4 percent for the first time in history. Gross operating profit (EBITDA) increased by 1 percent to 616 million euros, thanks to dozens of new stores that opened their doors.
Action is ready for the next phase of the growth agenda, with an increased focus on digital and sustainable growth. Two parts Hajar is currently responsible for.
The Hajj project also provided some support. I started experimenting with an online store: a few Belgian and French stores were given a collection point.
Before Corona, Action completely ignored the booming e-commerce, because the chain didn’t need a web store at all. Low prices attracted enough people to the stores. Moreover, such low prices will make it impossible to make an online store profitable. For this reason, other popular cheap retail chains, such as Primark, do not have an online store.
During the aura, the reverse of the medal appeared. Because of the store closures, there has been no income in some countries, while other retail chains can still rely on their digital stores. Hajj’s experiment appears to have earned the approval of Major Shareholder 3i, an investment fund. Action is ready for the next phase of the growth agenda, with an increased focus on digital and sustainable growth. Two parts that Hajar is currently responsible for.
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