C & A is an international chain of fashion retail clothing stores with its European head offices in Vilvoorde, Belgium and Dusseldorf, Germany. C & A currently operates nearly 450 stores throughout mainland Europe as well as stores in China, Mexico and Brazil, however the company has always been a secretive, privately owned corporation.
The business was founded by brothers Clemens and August Brenninkmejer who opened their first store in the small Dutch town of Sneek in 1841. The store pioneered sales of affordable ready-to-wear clothing. Many of Clemens and August Brenninkmejer’s descendants were active in the company throughout its history. Indeed, for a time, male members of the family, upon reaching the age of fourteen, were given the choice of entering the family business or joining the Catholic priesthood.
From 1922 C & A Modes retail clothing stores were a major presence on the high streets throughout the UK. ”modes” means “fashion” in Dutch and this word was later dropped from the name in the UK stores. In 2000 C & A announced its intention to withdraw from the British market. In 2001 the last of a total of 113 stores was shut down.
The Brenninkmejer family continues to own the C & A group and its success has led them to become the wealthiest family in the Netherlands.
The C & A Ltd. London handstamp on SG 488 shown below, was possibly a security endorsement but this has not been confirmed.