Every day, determined men and women are pushing back boundaries and helping to build a sustainable and digital economy. "We’ve been supplying raw materials to bakers, patissiers and chocolatiers for more than a hundred years," explains Jean-Philippe Michaux, Finance Director at Puratos.
It all started in 1919 in a garage in the municipality of Laeken, Brussels. In the meantime, we have just recently opened our 81st foreign branch and serve bakers, patissiers and chocolatiers – industrial and small-scale players – in 120 countries.'
Despite its international presence, Puratos remains a family business in which two Belgian families and one Spanish family are the main shareholder. 'Innovation and sustainability have been part of our DNA from the start," says Michaux. "'More than sixty years ago, Puratos was the first manufacturer of bread improvers. And since then, we have been constantly innovating. About 2.4% of our profit annually is spent on Research and Development (R&D)."
Michaux takes us to the R&D department. "Here, on 6,000 square meters, 500 researchers – mostly bioengineers – work daily to improve our products. Worldwide, one in nine of our more than nine thousand employees is active in R&D. Why are they necessary? Have you ever tried to bake a loaf or cake yourself? Then you know how difficult it is. For instance, a beautiful gâteaux with several layers of fruit on top. If you don't pay attention, it will collapse (he laughs)."
"Moreover, we are also developing solutions for industrial applications. In the patisserie, for example, you cannot simply multiply your ingredients and apply the same procedure."
Both the shareholders and the management of Puratos are committed to the long term: a horizon of twenty years is nothing exceptional. "It is the only way to be able to run a sustainable business. Our work is based on six pillars: a sustainable procurement policy, health, heritage, people, communities and the environment."
"We opt for a sustainable procurement policy and select reliable suppliers of fruit, cocoa, palm oil and animal products whose value chain we can trace ethically. We are particularly proud of Cacao-Trace, our sustainability programme for cocoa. The ongoing efforts of Cacao-Trace benefit all of us, and in particular the cocoa farmers, as we pay them a quality premium directly. This also ensures that we have chocolate with a superior taste. Cocoa farmers also receive a chocolate bonus of 10 cents per kilo of chocolate sold. This is very transparent. This win-win programme was recently funded with the help of our long-term partner BNP Paribas Fortis."
Puratos is also committed to the well-being of local communities. "In third-world countries, for example, we have set up a network of bakery schools where we provide young people with proper training. They can put their newly acquired skills to use in one of our branches or at a partner company," explains Michaux proudly. "'And that initiative didn't come from management, but from our employees. Because sustainable business practices are something we all work on."
"As a supplier to the food sector, we can contribute to the health of consumers worldwide by focusing on, for example, fewer sugars and less fat, without compromising on taste. A good example is the Vita+ bread with sprouted seeds. In fact, healthy bakery mixes have a very long tradition. Puratos launched the nutritious Elfi bread back in 1932."
"If we're not careful, we will evolve towards a white, tasteless kind of bread. A few years ago, we brainstormed about the future of bread. And what conclusion did we reach? That we have to look back at the past, at authentic tastes. This is why we started collecting local sourdoughs all over the world, and we kept them in three different places in a sourdough library. This ensures the survival of the biodiversity of bread."
Finally, Michaux points out the important pillar, 'environment'. Earlier this year, Puratos took out a EUR 75 million sustainability loan from BNP Paribas Fortis, the cost of which is linked to achieving the proposed annual C02reduction. "Our ambition is to be C02neutral by 2025, a heavy investment, but this will pay off in the long term. We are doing this by adding solar panels to our roofs, for example. We are building wind turbines where possible. And in Belgium, we are evolving towards maintaining a fully electric or hybrid fleet."
Entrepreneurial success stories
At BNP Paribas Fortis, we are particularly proud to support passionate and inspiring entrepreneurs like … Working together to forge new ways of doing business: another example of Positive Banking.
Who will win a Private Equity Award this year?
The Private Equity Awards will be presented on 12 October 2022. We are organising this event for the fifth time, together with the Belgian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (BVA). Check out this year’s nine nominees.
The Private Equity Awards reward Belgian companies that have received support from a private equity or venture capital investor for their growth and development. This is the fifth time that the Belgian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (BVA) and BNP Paribas Fortis are organising this prestigious award ceremony.
The nine finalists were nominated based on criteria such as sustainable growth, authentic leadership, and active ownership. They are divided into three award categories: Venture capital, Growth, and Buy-out company of the year.
Venture company of the year:
Aerospacelab is an innovative scale-up specialising in satellite platforms and information obtained from geospatial technology. The company designs, manufactures and operates a constellation of satellites for remote sensing, collecting useful information.
Precirix is a biopharmaceutical company and a spin-off of the VUB. It is dedicated to extending and improving the lives of cancer patients by designing and developing precision radiopharmaceuticals.
Qover enables any digital company to embed insurance in its value proposition. The company has built a tech platform that can launch any insurance product in any market, language and currency in days.
Growth company of the year:
Efficy has developed a complete and highly customisable SaaS (Software as a Service) CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solution. The company wants to become five times bigger, increasing its market share to 5% of the independent CRM market in Europe, within five years.
- Fedrus International
Fedrus International is an international building materials group that manufactures and distributes roof and façade materials and services with a focus on EPDM rubber and zinc. The company wants to become the preferred partner of building professionals, with high quality standards and a great sense of innovation.
Lansweeper is an IT Asset Management platform provider that helps companies better understand, protect, and centrally manage their IT devices and network. The company has developed a software platform that can be used to create an inventory of all types of technology assets, installed software and users.
Buy-out company of the year:
- Baobab Collection
Baobab Collection sells diffusers and candles made from hand-blown glass or metal clad with precious leather. The Belgian brand remains true to its values of craftsmanship and excellence by supporting European expertise and craftsmen.
Sylphar develops and markets innovative and consumer-friendly OTC products worldwide. OTC products are medicines that are sold directly to the consumer without requiring a doctor's prescription. Examples include tooth whitening products and skin, hair and body care products.
- House of HR
House of HR is a leading European HR service provider focusing on Specialised Talent Solutions and Engineering & Consulting. Their goal is to connect people’s talents and dreams with successful companies.
Drive innovation and sustainable growth
"Private equity is a financial instrument that is perfectly suited to boost innovation and sustainable growth. The result is strong growth. But private equity involves after all so much more than just raising capital. Venture capital investors also share their knowledge and network, opening many doors. All the nominees have a solid track record and are all in with a chance to win. I am very curious to see which companies will take home an award", says Raf Moons, Head of BNP Paribas Fortis Private Equity.
Find out more about Private Equity at BNP Paribas Fortis.
Source: Press release BVA
Mobility Solutions of the Future
Your employees’ mobility needs are not standing still, and legislation is also changing at lightning speed. As a company, it is therefore crucial to work today on the mobility of tomorrow.
A changing world
Today you drive to visit customers, tomorrow you work from home and on Friday you take the train and the shared scooter from the station to the office... Your employees’ mobility needs are not standing still and the demand for sustainable, integrated and flexible solutions is increasing.
Legislation and economic conditions are also changing at an unprecedented pace. As part of its initiative to make the automobile sector more sustainable, the government has set a number of ambitious targets, such as greenhouse gas-free company cars by 2026 and betting on smart mobility for commuting. For this reason, many companies are currently considering a transition from a car policy to a mobility policy, in which employees are also given access to other alternative means of transport. In practice, however, there is a lot of extra administration involved when your employees opt for combined mobility to get around. A forward-thinking digital mobility solution tailored to your company will give you a big head start.
Employees want to choose for themselves
Multimodal mobility is an important asset for attracting and retaining talent. Not everyone benefits from a company car alone as a means of transport. Your employees want to be able to choose how they travel to and from work. One day the car is the best option, the next day, the bike or public transport. By moving towards a flexible mobility policy, employees will be able to choose the mobility solutions that suit them best in the future, so that they can go to work in complete freedom and with a good feeling.
Reducing CO² emissions
We are facing a real challenge in the coming years. Mobility and logistics account for as much as 22% of CO2 emissions in our country. If we are to achieve the European target – to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030 – we need to work urgently on greening our mobility. Electrification of your fleet in combination with soft mobility is already a step in the right direction. The government is driving this transition to zero-emission mobility by discouraging fossil-fuelled vehicles from a tax perspective and rewarding electrification. Think about more than just purchasing or leasing electric vehicles.
Towards Smart, Integrated Mobility Solutions
Mobility cards that offer an all-in-one solution for all your employees’ professional travel are still relatively unknown, but work very well. They allow you to book and pay for all necessary means of transport, from leased cars, public transport and taxis to shared mobility of bicycles, scooters and cars. Employees can also use them to fill up their lease cars, charge them and pay for parking and car wash.
Mobility platforms and apps go one step further: they offer the ideal multimodal solution in real time, depending on needs and traffic conditions. For example, taking the car to the outskirts of Brussels and then switching to an electric scooter or, in nice weather, biking to the office. The user of the mobility app can also buy a ticket directly from the suitable mobility provider, with a mobility budget that the employer makes available via a linked mobility platform. Such a platform allows employers to customise their mobility policy to meet their specific needs. This way, all employee mobility solutions are managed on the same platform. Moreover, all this is directly linked to the payroll of the payroll service provider. Thanks to the platform, the actual situation is displayed at all times and wages are always calculated correctly, taking into account individual mobility plans and expenses.
Say goodbye to congestion and administrative hassle, and hello to sustainable mobility!
Do you want a mobility policy that responds to the ever-changing needs of your employees and is committed to sustainability? Our experts will be happy to help you.
Mobility solutions are offered by Arval Belgium SA/NV via BNP Paribas Fortis SA/NV, Montagne du Parc/Warandeberg 3, B-1000 Brussels, Brussels Register of Companies VAT BE0403.199.702.
The information provided here does not constitute an offer. An offer will be made only after your dossier has been accepted and shall always be subject to the general terms and conditions of Arval Belgium SA/NV.
Leeuw van de Export for two Flemish companies
On Wednesday 14 September 2022, FIT presented its ‘Leeuw van de Export’ for the 21st time in Brabanthal in Leuven. Twipe Mobile Solutions and Kipco-Damaco won this prestigious award. Congratulations!
Every year Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) honours two Flemish companies that excelled in exports with a ‘Leeuw van de Export’ award. At this year’s award ceremony - a live event at the Brabanthal in Leuven after two years of live streamed events -, tech player Twipe Mobile Solutions bagged the award in the category of 'Companies with up to 49 employees'. In the category of 'Companies with 50 or more employees' the award went to food producer Kipco-Damaco.
At the forefront of technology with Twipe Mobile Solutions
A user-friendly digital newspaper, insights into reading behaviour, and personalised news feeds: the winning features of the SaaS applications that Twipe Mobile Solutions develops. The Heverlee-based company helps approximately 80 influential newspaper titles engage more readers with digital subscriptions.
After a first mobile news app in collaboration with the Corelio media group and the first digital-only newspaper in France, JAMES was launched in the UK. This digital butler, which creates automated, personalised reading lists for subscribers, caught the attention of Google, which granted the company innovation funding.
Twipe Mobile Solutions serves newspapers in 13 countries, accounting for 92% of its turnover. While France is currently the largest market, Twipe has high ambitions for the UK and the US, is working on a growth formula for Germany, and is also targeting Asia.
Kipco-Damaco: from Oostrozebeke to Singapore
The chicken in your favourite deep-fryied snack or boiled sausage is probably produced at Kipco-Damaco. In recent years, the family-owned poultry slaughterhouse in West Flanders has developed into a global producer and distributor of chicken separator meat for further processing.
After a first foreign sales office in Singapore in 2008, the company established 4 production sites and 11 branches in countries such as Brazil, India, the Philippines and Vietnam. In 2020, Kipco-Damaco opened new offices in Hong Kong and Poland, exporting its products to a total of 150 countries. Exports account for 83% of the company's turnover, of which a significant proportion is bound for non-EU countries.
Year after year, the company is pushing its boundaries and expanding the operations of other business units. In addition to chicken, the company currently also exports frozen meat, French fries, vegetables and fish for the retail and food services segments.
Inspired by these two Lions?
Does your company have export plans? Discover our wide range of solutions to optimise, secure and finance your import and export activities.
Who is in with a chance of winning a Leeuw van de Export Award in 2022?
On Wednesday 14 September, FIT will present its 21st Leeuw van de Export Award: the highest award for Flemish companies achieving outstanding export results. Will Belkorn, Twipe Mobile Solutions, XenomatiX, Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics, Kipco-Damaco or Lambo Laboratoria win?
Every year, Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) awards a Leeuw van de Export Award to two companies that have recorded notable achievements in the field of exports in the past year. We briefly introduce the six nominees below. Be inspired by their foreign expansion stories. On 14 September, the top exporters will be celebrated at the Brabanthal in Leuven.
Nominees in the 'Companies with up to 49 employees' category:
Belkorn from Diest
Healthy and tasty, high-quality ingredients that are good for people and the planet. Belkorn has been making this sustainable vision a reality since 1985, when it launched the first organic baby biscuit in Europe, well before the current trend for organic food. In 2010, a British brand chose Belkorn to bake its biscuits, causing the company to ramp up its export plans. Russia and Australia soon followed suit, and today Belkorn has a presence in 30 countries. More than 95% of the company's turnover is derived from exports.
CEO Jos Corthouts: "Thanks to continuous investments in innovation and a state-of-the-art production centre, we have seen rapid growth over the past five years. In the future, we hope to boost our presence in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand and gain a foothold in the German market."
Twipe Mobile Solutions from Heverlee
Heverlee-based Twipe Mobile Solutions assists 80 influential newspaper titles, helping them to increase their reader numbers and revenue with a user-friendly digital newspaper, insights into reading behaviour, and personalised news feeds. After a first mobile news app and the first exclusive digital newspaper in France, they launched JAMES in the UK, a digital butler that compiles automated, personalised reading lists for subscribers. Twipe Mobile Solutions serves newspapers in 13 countries, accounting for 92% of turnover.
CEO Danny Lein: "In the coming years, we want to develop a tech scale-up that plays in the Champions League of news media technologies, while remaining true to our Flemish roots. With intelligent innovation, a lot of hard work and team spirit, you can grow and build an international reputation."
XenomatiX from Leuven
XenomatiX develops innovative laser systems for self-driving cars. The Leuven-based company provides an answer to the automotive industry’s demand for more compact, reliable and affordable sensors. Despite its small-scale production, XenomatiX has a very local presence in major automotive countries such as Germany, the US, China, Japan and South Korea, to explain and demonstrate its technology on the ground. The company wants to make a difference worldwide with its promising technology.
CEO Filip Geuens: "We want to make an economically relevant contribution to society through our technology and the resulting employment."
Nominees in the 'Companies with 50 or more employees' category
Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics from Hoogstraten
Bogaerts Greenhouse Logistics is the largest player in the automation of greenhouse gardening. The company develops machines, appliances and other logistical aids for spraying, harvesting and sorting in modern greenhouses. The sophisticated systems, which are produced in Hoogstraten, are now used in more than 40 countries.
CEO Joris Bogaerts: "In Europe, we're gradually hitting the ceiling in terms of terminal automation. But there are lots of large-scale projects in the pipeline in Eastern Europe, Russia and China. And the African continent still offers a lot of potential." We want to be ranked among the global top 3."
Kipco-Damaco from Oostrozebeke
The chicken in your favourite deep-frying snack or boiled sausage is probably produced at Kipco-Damaco. In recent years, the poultry slaughterhouse in West Flanders has developed into a global producer and distributor of chicken separator meat for further processing. After a first foreign sales office in Singapore, the company established 4 production sites and 11 branches in countries such as Brazil, India, the Philippines and Vietnam. This development offers significant added value thanks to local market knowledge and short lines of communication with the meat technologists at Kipco-Damaco. Exports account for 83% of the company's turnover, of which a significant proportion is bound for the EU.
Co-owner and commercial & marketing director Iris Vandaele: "We believe in taking a chance, jumping on every opportunity for expansion. We valorise chicken separator meat, but also extract proteins from feathers for animal feed, for example. We were circular long before this was a hot topic."
Lambo Laboratoria from Wijnegem
Family-owned company Lambo Laboratoria develops high-quality gelatin capsules for the pharmaceutical and food supplement industry. Instead of mass production, they produce capsules that are tailored to their customers on demand. Their choice to operate in a niche market has been driving their international growth for 15 years, with sales to 30 countries today. Currently, exports account for 78% of the company's turnover, with the majority bound for our neighbouring countries, Italy and Poland. The company thinks there is still plenty of growth potential, both geographically and in specific market segments, and is currently looking for partners in Germany and Italy. Far-flung markets also beckon.
Managing Director Uwe Leonard: "We purposefully capitalise on our Flemish roots. It is striking how we are often appreciated more abroad than in our own country. 'Made in Belgium' is a quality label around the world."
Find out on 14 September who are the 2 winners of the 2022 Leeuw van de Export Award. Register beforehand at www.leeuwvandeexport.be.
Are you ready for your first international adventure or do you want to further expand your international activities? We offer you the peace of mind you need, with a wide range of solutions to optimise, secure and finance your import and export activities.
Source: Wereldwijs magazine 2022