C&A – a success story

An idea wins through.

Nowadays C&A is part of the cityscape in many parts of Europe. About two million people frequent our branches every day. Yet many of them are unaware of the story that lies behind those two capital letters. This began as early as the 17th century when the forebears of the later company founders, Clemens and August Brenninkmeijer, whose initials still make up the company logo today, traded in linen and textiles across Europe. Two hundred years later, the two brothers continued the ancient family tradition selling fabrics, primarily in Germany and the Netherlands. It was they who founded their company in 1841 in Sneek, Friesland, giving it the name C&A Brenninkmeijer. This marking the beginning of a success story that endures to this day.

From Westphalia to Europe

It all started in Mettingen.

The two founding fathers had a business plan that was as simple as it was revolutionary for those times: they offered good quality, ready-to-wear clothing at affordable prices, introducing standard sizes as well as the customer-friendly option to exchange goods. In this way they set the benchmark in the fashion retail business. Good ideas win through and the number of branches in the Netherlands increased steadily. It was therefore an obvious next step that the heirs of Clemens & August would extend the successful model beyond the borders of Holland.

Thus in 1911 the family company opened the first store in Germany, in Berlin. Other stores were to follow later in England. The Second World War put expansion plans on hold. At the beginning of the 1960s, however, the company gained further footholds in Belgium, France and Switzerland. Today, C&A, still managed as a family company, is even represented in China, Brazil and Mexico. These affiliates operate independently of C&A Europe.

Always at the forefront of fashion

C&A - bringing the trends to a store near you

If you want to succeed in the fashion business, you have to know exactly what people are looking for at all times. C&A has always had a knack for this, and still does. If people in the 1950s and 60s swooned after bikinis or miniskirts, C&A picked up on it and made the trends accessible to a broad public. This is how C&A made its decisive mark on the look of the time. Even today the company still sends its scouts out into the city streets to track down new fashion trends and pass them on to C&A designers. They in their turn design the fashion that will soon after be worn on the streets of Europe.

Fashion for Europe

C&A sets a course for expansion

What started off as a two-man operation in 1841 is today one of Europe's leading fashion companies. The founders' heirs recognised the potential of the business concept and expanded into neighbouring countries, having already opened a substantial number of C&A stores in the Netherlands. C&A has meanwhile opened more than 1,575 branches in Europe, employing staff in excess of 37,500. With 500 stores, Germany represents the biggest market, followed by the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium, Spain and France. Most recently C&A has opened stores in Italy, Romania, Croatia, Serbia and Denmark.
C&A has fashion for the whole family. The twelve dedicated subbrands ensure that, hip and trendy or classic and elegant, we have the fashion product our customers want. Equally successful at C&A are the in-store XL Shops offering beautiful fashion for those looking for larger sizes.

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One of the global market leaders for organic cotton

C&A is taking organic cotton out of the niche and into the mass market

C&A is also pleased to meet customers' increasing desire for ecological products. Since 2006, C&A has offered collections made from certified organic cotton, thereby making a considerable contribution to the environment. Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides, artificial fertilisers or genetically modified seed and this helps to restore ecological balance, promote sustainable agriculture and protect the health of cotton farmers and their families. In 2009, C&A sold about 12.5 million items of clothing made from organic cotton - roughly 10 per cent of C&A's entire cotton range.

We intend to increase this percentage still further in the coming years. This makes C&A the world's leading supplier today of this type of clothing. Our customers can be especially happy in the knowledge that organic cotton at C&A costs not a penny more than clothing made from conventionally grown cotton.

Openness, fairness, trust

Our company philosophy is based on traditional values

The company's entire history is characterised by a fundamental focus on traditional values. C&A operates in a global and, therefore, complex environment. This is only possible if all of our business activities and all employees share the same values.

Each and every day in our business we face new challenges in terms of working and environmental conditions. In order to meet these challenges at all times despite constant change, our dealings with people and the environment are based on the principle of sustainability which we have firmly anchored in our business strategy and our management structures.

We have defined clear ethical, social and ecological standards in our Code of Conduct which are binding components of our business relationships. Adherence to these conditions is consistently checked by the independent organisation SOCAM (Service Organisation for Compliance Audit Management).