Case

KAMERA EXPRESS

Kamera Express has the ambition to be and remain Europe’s largest camera shop chain.  Consequently, the number of locations in the Benelux and Germany has grown significantly in recent years. But retail director Marvin Kohen also sees many opportunities in other countries. In addition, new innovations are continuously being introduced in the existing shops. With ‘one-stop shopping’ as underlying idea.

As retail director, Marvin Kohen is responsible for all the Kamera Express shops in the Benelux and Germany. ‘When I started three years ago we only had shops in the Netherlands, plus four in Belgium.’ In the meantime, that number has grown considerably. ‘We have continued to expand, both by acquiring companies and opening new shops ourselves. In the Netherlands, with thirteen locations, we are now very well represented. And now we are concentrating our efforts on Germany.’ In terms of location, we are really looking at the big cities, such as Munich and Cologne. In the future we also want to expand to other countries, such as Poland and Austria. The same goes for France.’

He knows that acquisitions are important, as a means of gaining significant market share in a country in one fell swoop. ‘That is how we got a foothold in Belgium, for example. Photo Galerie was a major player in Belgium, and by acquiring the company we have now become the market leader. Alongside that, we are also looking for attractive new locations, to draw the market to us. I really enjoy developing a shop from scratch.’ The acquired shops are slowly being transformed into Kamera Express locations. ‘When we took over Photo Galerie, we initially kept the existing name. One by one, the shops are being converted, so that both customers and our new colleagues can slowly get used to the changes.’ He believes it is important that the shops ultimately all operate under the same name. ‘We want to be and remain one big strong name and player.’

We want to be and remain the “king of the niche
- Marvin Kohen, retail directeur van Kamera Express

Rebranding

Rebranding is carefully considered during an acquisition. ‘We are an omnichannel company, so we always have online and offline strategies. The level of service provided online must be matched by that in the shop and vice versa.’ The same applies to the look and feel of the locations. ‘Both the interior and exterior must reflect our concept well. We start with a standard plan, and then we see what is possible at that location. For example, in larger shops we install vlog booths and a studio where customers can take their own photos and try out their equipment. We also offer help with mobile phones, for example, so that customers with product-related questions can simply turn to their trusted salesperson for assistance rather than always having to contact our European customer service centre.’

For the rebranding and renovations, Kamera Express has partnered with general contractor Bulsink. ‘We believe that creating unity is incredibly important,’ explains John Bressers, account manager at Bulsink. ‘It should not matter whether customers cross the threshold at Kamera Express in Hanover, Cologne or Rotterdam. They should always experience the same familiarity.’ He calls Kamera Express the ideal customer, due to its expansion and acquisition drive. ‘We ensure quick turnkey delivery with the same look and feel time after time. We have a lot of expertise in-house, we know exactly what works and what doesn’t, and we take care of everything for the customer, from start to finish.’ He illustrates this with an example. ‘We recommended a different type of lighting. White light makes for better presentation, which leads customers to buy more.’

Valuable tips on signage are also provided. ‘If it’s in a shop window and visible from the outside, rather than being outside on the facade, you don’t need to apply for a permit.’ Bulsink knows everything there is to know about laws and regulations. ‘Not only are there many differences from one country to another, there are even differences between the German states.’

 

Despite the good rebranding strategy, opening branches in many different countries is quite difficult, Kohen has learned. ‘Each country has its own culture. You can’t address the French the same way you do the Belgians. We look for a good solution on a store-by-store basis, and sometimes it’s just a matter of trying. The Germans, for instance, are used to developing photos in mini labs, and we plan to roll out this concept further there. Last month we moved our shop in Breda and reopened at a new location with the latest concept. We included a simple version of the minilab in the form of a photo kiosk to see whether this concept will also work in the Netherlands and whether it will attract new customers. As an organisation, we are very driven to innovate.’

King of the nice

According to Kohen, Kamera Express is ‘the king of the nice’. ‘Photography is just a small part of our business. We want to master all aspects for the customer. For example, we are currently in the process of fully integrating camera rental company Budgetcam Cameraverhuur, which we acquired at the end of 2019, into our shops.’ In his view, integrating rentals shows how dynamic Kamera Express is. ‘Soon, under one roof, customers will not only be able to buy a camera but also print those photos, and we have an academy where they can attend all kinds of courses and workshops.’

The integration is in full swing. ‘In one year, we expanded the number of rental shops in the Netherlands from seven to fourteen. In Belgium, we opened ten. In Amsterdam there is more interest in renting than in Groningen, so a lot of equipment is readily available in Amsterdam, and we opened a pick-up point in Groningen. Interested customers can book a day in advance, and we will then have all the equipment ready for pick up the next day.’

Collaboration

Kohen experiences Kamera Express’ flat organisational structure as a big advantage. ‘We have remodelled a few shops ourselves, but by now we have grown so big that we really need an external party to facilitate everything. We chose Bulsink as our partner to help us remodel new shops and maintain existing locations. This ensures that everything is handled even more professionally. Bulsink gives good advice, has a strong vision and knows exactly how to arrange everything.’

A new shop is currently being set up in Cologne. ‘That is a very challenging project. Our location is in a listed building, so we have to comply with all sorts of additional regulations. Bulsink has created a wonderful concept for the shop. It looks futuristic yet suits the building incredibly well.’ ‘A key aspect is understanding how Kamera Express works,’ Bressers explains. ‘It is a modern and relatively young company, with an omnichannel approach. It is essential that the company has the same look and feel online and offline. When customers visit the website online or see various posts on social media, it is important that they recognise the same branding in their local shop.’

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