Listed among historical signs in Europe, C & A (of the given names of the founders Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer), established in 1861 in the small town of Sneek, North of the Netherlands, is not just today one of the first distributors of clothing on the Continent. It is only the visible part of a real family empire inherited the visionary genius of these two Dutch traders who started in 1841 with a small case of textile wholesaler.
C & A Europe, which now a thousand stores and employs some 45,000 people, is the most important element. At least emotionally because, in financial terms, nothing is less sure. Zug, in the suburb of Zurich, where is established the Cofra holding company founded in October 2001 to consolidate all of the assets held by the Brenninkmeijer family, the discretion is appropriate. To protect its members, said, we're going to keep secret age of Stan, a quadragénaire member of the Supervisory Board and Chairman of the Executive Board of group where, in total, "dozens" of direct heirs of the founders (the first or second degree cousins) have an operational activity in the various entities.
This fifth generation has the intention of disproving to turn the famous adage that "the first generation creates the company, maintains it the second and the third kills." PAS question therefore keep all eggs in one basket. In addition to distribution, with C & A Europe whose sales amounted to EUR 5.2 billion in 2005, C & Brazil, Mexico and Argentina (completely distinct from the first), Cofra has three other branches more or less directly related with the activity of origin. In real estate, the land Redevco, created in 1999 from C & A buildings, boasts a portfolio of assets valued at more than 6 billion euros, "much less than 50 for the Distributor", says the "echoes" a spokesman of Cofra. Financial services remain still mainly related to the activities of the sign, with Banco Ibi Brazil or Ibing in Europe, specialised in consumer credit. The Brenninkmeijer family also controls a traditional Bank, Brenca BV, based in Amsterdam.
Capital investment ("private equity") is the fourth pole of the holding company with Bregal, co-chaired by Louis Brenninkmeijer, cousin of Stan, and Franco-American Yves de Balmann. Launched in 2001 to consolidate all investments in "private equity", the structure of family management announced two years later a program in the non-coté of 2 billion euros, of which 700 million "Fund of funds" Bregal, 600 million in Central Partners, based in the United States, and 650 million promised Engelfield, based in London, for acquisitions in Europe. "We are closer today to the EUR 3 billion, with a performance of our associate beyond portfolio, with very pronounced way, our expectations", said Yves de Balmann. The Group has invested directly in 12 companies (6 in the US, 6 in Europe) and is present as "limited partner" in 15 Fund, whose Activa and PAI in France, with a rule, "the short term is interesting and has meaning in the long term", which has preserved the family unit so far. Cofra is also somewhat involved in venture capital with its "Entrepreneurs Fund", particularly involved in renewable energy. Because the Brenninkmeijer know what sustainable development means.