Hagemeyer Trading



Hagemeyer Trading is an international company that specialises in business-to-business products and services. It was established in 1904 by two brothers, Anton and Johan Hagemeijer, in Surabaya, Java, for the purpose of importing products into the Dutch East Indies (present day Indonesia). In 1973, Hagemeyer set up its Asia regional headquarters in Singapore, which operates as a holding company for its subsidiaries worldwide.1

Corporate background

Hagemeyer Trading was founded unofficially in the 1890s, when Anton Hagemeijer undertook an export consignment of cheese to sell in the Dutch East Indies, where he was based as a bookkeeper for the colonial offices. He collaborated with his elder brother, Johan Hagemeijer, soon thereafter. Then in 1904, they established the trading company, Hagemeijer & Co., in Surabaya, Java.2
 

Hagemeijer & Co. was based in the Dutch-colonised East Indies for the first few years of its operation, exporting both necessities and luxury items such as ink, wine, clocks and fabrics from the Netherlands for European settlers. The company distinguished itself from its early rivals by trading and exporting branded items. In the company’s first year of operation, the brothers earned at least 60,000 guilders (currency of Netherlands at the time), a figure that doubled in the next financial year.3
 
The neutrality of the Netherlands in World War I allowed Hagemeijer & Co. to enjoy uninterrupted business, enabling it to quadruple its post-war capital from the initial  Netherlands Florin (NFl) 800,000 at the beginning of the war. Following the death of his elder brother and business partner, Anton Hagemeijer changed the company’s name to Hagemeyer Trading in 1918, so as to facilitate the company’s use of modern typewriters, which did not support the traditional symbols in its original name.4
 

In the 1920s, the re-opening of international trade resulted in a flood of merchandise and commodity items that caused huge price drops, forcing many companies to close down. Hagemeyer’s business also suffered and it closed a few branch offices. By 1921, its losses amounted to about NFI 500,000. Following continued losses in 1922, it turned its shares over to a creditor bank for the purpose of corporate survival. With market conditions improving quickly thereafter, ownership of the company was subsequently transferred back to the Hagemeijer family.5
 
Hagemeyer’s businesses were once again disrupted in 1942 due to the Japanese Occupation of Indonesia. The dire situation did not improve after the war, as Indonesian nationalists fought the Dutch for sovereignty. During these years, the company suffered financial difficulties and thus made the decision to redirect its business operations to outside of Indonesia. By 1956, New Guinea and Singapore became the preferred countries for Hagemeyer’s operations, which were also sufficiently profitable for the company to exit the Indonesian market.6
 

By 1975, Hagemeyer was operating out of nine countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and South Korea. There were 15 trading and manufacturing companies, as well as 31 offices and branch offices, under the group.7
 
Singapore operations
Hagemeyer first established a branch office in Singapore in 1932. Then in 1973, a S$5 million Far East regional headquarters, designed by Swan and MacLaren, was opened on Dunearn Road.
 
Key regional partnership
In Singapore, Hagemeyer entered into an agreement with Matsushita Electric Trading during the 1970s. Under the agreement, Hagemeyer was sole distributor of Matsushita Electric’s brands, including National, Technics and Panasonic. The two companies also jointly published the newsletter, National News, which put together boardroom and retail news on Hagemeyer, as well as all the products it distributed under its partnership with Matsushita Electric.9
 
In 1979, sales under the brand National surged by over 50 percent from the previous year, due to an increase in earnings from a newly launched video cassette recorder, an innovation by Matsushita Electric.10 Hagemeyer also launched several notable advertising campaigns in that year, and sponsored popular television programmes such as the RTS Chinese Talentime.11
 

Recent developments
Hagemeyer was badly affected by the Asian crisis in 1998, which forced it to write off its retail subsidiary Ceteco. The collapse of Ceteco and the retirement of Hagemeyer’s chief executive officer prompted a revision of the company’s strategy. Consequently, the company decided to sell off all its consumer goods operations to focus solely on business-to-business services.12
 

In 2000, Hagemeyer acquired Spanish firm Almacenes de Baja y Media, a leading distributor of electrical products in Spain. The acquisition coincided with the company’s new policy of focusing on business-to-business distribution, especially for its electro-technical cluster.13



Author

Esther Wang Ying Jie



References
1. Worldwide Hagemeyer chairman opens new office. (1973, February 14). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; International directory of company histories (Vol. 39). (2001). Chicago, Ill.: St. James Press, pp. 201–202. (Call no.: RBUS q338.7409 INT)
2. International directory of company histories39. (2001). Chicago, Ill.: St. James Press, pp. 201–202. (Call no.: RBUS q338.7409 INT)
3. International directory of company histories, 39. (2001). Chicago, Ill.: St. James Press, pp. 201–202. (Call no.: RBUS q338.7409 INT)
4. International directory of company histories, 39. (2001). Chicago, Ill.: St. James Press, p. 202. (Call no.: RBUS q338.7409 INT)
5. International directory of company histories, 39. (2001). Chicago, Ill.: St. James Press, p. 202. (Call no.: RBUS q338.7409 INT)
6. International directory of company histories, 39. (2001). Chicago, Ill.: St. James Press, p. 203. (Call no.: RBUS q338.7409 INT)
7. Hagemeyer Group of Companies. (1975). Hagemeyer: Exports to the west. Singapore: Times Printers, p. 3. (Call no.: RCLOS EPHE O285)
8. Hagemeyer’s regional hq. in Singapore opened. (1973, February 15). New Nation, p. 7; Progressive firm must be able to adapt to the ‘wind of change’. (1973, February 14). The Straits Times, p. 19; Worldwide Hagemeyer chairman opens new office. (1973, February 14). The Straits Times, p. 17. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Iimura, S. (1980). The importance of close communication. National news: The National family Newsletter, 1(1). Singapore: Hagemeyer Trading (S) Sdn. Bhd, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS q338.76213095957 NNNFN); Wesselman, J. N. (1980). An important step in the right direction. National news: The National family newsletter, 1(1).Singapore: Hagemeyer Trading (S) Sdn. Bhd, p. 1. (Call no.: RCLOS q338.76213095957 NNNFN)
10. 1979 a good year for all. (1980). National news: The National family newsletter, 1(1). Singapore: Hagemeyer Trading (S) Sdn. Bhd, p. 2. (Call no.: RCLOS q338.76213095957 NNNFN)
11. 1979 a good year for all. (1980). National news: The National family newsletter, 1(1). Singapore: Hagemeyer Trading (S) Sdn. Bhd, p. 2. (Call no.: RCLOS q338.76213095957 NNNFN); Chinese talentime: $90,000 in prizes. (1979, August 29), New Nation, p. 19. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. International directory of company histories, 39. (2001). Chicago, Ill.: St. James Press, p. 204. (Call no.: RBUS q338.7409 INT)
13. International directory of company histories, 39. (2001). Chicago, Ill.: St. James Press, p. 204. (Call no.: RBUS q338.7409 INT)



The information in this article is valid as at 2009 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.



Subject
Organisations>>Companies
Business, finance and industry>>Business organization>>Multinational companies
International business enterprises--Singapore
Corporations--Singapore
Business enterprises