The Flemish Ambassador ‘large companies’ Agristo: ‘We want to grow on our own’ – Companies

This year, the champagne corks pop at Agristo several times. The producer of pre-fried and frozen potato products is not only our Trends Gazellen ambassador again, the company is also inaugurating its new headquarters in Wielsbeke. This summer there will be a party to celebrate the 35th birthday.

After a year’s break, Agristo is back at the top of the Trends Gazelle rankings among the major companies in West Flanders and is an ambassador for the whole of Flanders. “In 2020, we had to slow down a bit, but all in all, we’ve digested corona and Brexit well,” says CEO Filip Wallays. “Our sales remained stable that year, thanks to our geographical spread – we are active in more than 120 countries. In addition, we have a diverse customer base, which consists of a mix of retail and food service customers such as restaurant chains and industry. Kitchens .. ”

Last year, Agristo grew again. “We have felt the impact of rising energy and commodity prices since last fall,” said co-CEO Hannelore Raes. “But we are now reaping the benefits of our significant investments in sustainable energy in recent years. In Wielsbeke, for example, we are working with the A&U power plant, which converts non-recyclable wood waste into steam and electricity. We use this energy, among other things to peel potatoes. and heat the frying fat. ”

The new headquarters in Wielsbeke will soon be inaugurated. This will be the new home base for the 200 employees in the central services. A production hall had already been built on the same site. “The third production line has recently been in operation,” says Raes. “We still have a lot of room to expand. We want to take the next production line into use in 2025-2026.”

private label

In the mid-eighties, the West Flemish deep-frozen vegetable sector exploded. The international success inspired Antoon Wallays to try it with frozen potato products. He received support from the late Luc Raes. The business plan when it was founded was not much bigger than an A4 sheet.

The duo saw enormous potential, because unlike vegetables, which consumers often have local preferences for, potatoes are an international product. Yet Agristo was not an instant success. But with West Flemish persistence, Wallays and Raes continued to build on the road, and suddenly the ball began to roll. “The choice of a private label was an important success factor. In addition, Agristo makes the difference with its knowledge of the supply chain, its customer focus and its continuous investment in high-performance production equipment,” says Filip Wallays.

At the turn of the century, Agristo took its first quantum leap by taking over a production site in Tilburg, the Netherlands. In 2011, the acquisition of sector competitor Willequet followed in Nazareth. Agristo has concentrated the production of pureed (croquettes and figurines) and cracked products (rösti) there.

After a dip in the growth curve in 2020, Agristo has a strong growth ambition more than ever. “We want to achieve growth on our own. Acquisition files are not immediately on the table. If we see opportunities, we will look at them. Agristo needs to become stronger as a result,” stresses Filip Wallays.

Employee marketing

Agristo has grown into a global player with an annual turnover of more than 600 million euros. The more than a thousand employees are spread over the branches in Wielsbeke, Harelbeke, Nazareth and Tilburg. The company recruits about a hundred new employees each year. Despite the tight labor market, the search is progressing. “In recent years, we have invested heavily in employee marketing and it pays off. But the best ambassadors are our employees. We call them ours potato holics“We take care of our people by focusing on education, reception policy and leadership development,” says Hannelore Raes. In addition, any occasion is good for a party. The intention was to celebrate our 35th anniversary last year. It could not go on, but this summer we will have to make up for it. Lift!”

After a year’s break, Agristo is back at the top of the Trends Gazelle rankings among the major companies in West Flanders and is an ambassador for the whole of Flanders. “In 2020, we had to slow down a bit, but all in all, we’ve digested corona and Brexit well,” says CEO Filip Wallays. “Our sales remained stable that year, thanks to our geographical spread – we are active in more than 120 countries. In addition, we have a diverse customer base, which consists of a mix of retail and food service customers such as restaurant chains and industry. Kitchens .. “Last year, Agristo grew again. “We have felt the impact of rising energy and commodity prices since last fall,” said co-CEO Hannelore Raes. “But we are now reaping the benefits of our significant investments in sustainable energy in recent years. In Wielsbeke, for example, we are working with the A&U power plant, which converts non-recyclable wood waste into steam and electricity. We use this energy, among other things to peel potatoes. and heat the frying fat. ” The new headquarters in Wielsbeke will soon be inaugurated. This will be the new home base for the 200 employees in the central services. A production hall had already been built on the same site. “The third production line has recently been in operation,” says Raes. “We still have a lot of room to expand. We want to take the next production line into use in 2025-2026.” In the mid-eighties, the West Flemish deep-frozen vegetable sector exploded. The international success inspired Antoon Wallays to try it with frozen potato products. He received support from the late Luc Raes. The business plan when it was founded was not much bigger than an A4 sheet. The duo saw enormous potential, because unlike vegetables, which consumers often have local preferences for, potatoes are an international product. Yet Agristo was not an instant success. But with West Flemish persistence, Wallays and Raes continued to build on the road, and suddenly the ball began to roll. “The choice of a private label was an important success factor. In addition, Agristo makes the difference with its knowledge of the supply chain, its customer focus and its continuous investment in high-performance production equipment,” says Filip Wallays. At the turn of the century, Agristo took its first quantum leap by taking over a production site in Tilburg, the Netherlands. In 2011, the acquisition of sector competitor Willequet followed in Nazareth. Agristo has concentrated the production of pureed (croquettes and figurines) and cracked products (rösti) there. After a dip in the growth curve in 2020, Agristo has a strong growth ambition more than ever. “We want to achieve growth on our own. Acquisition files are not immediately on the table. If we see opportunities, we will look at them. Agristo needs to become stronger as a result,” stresses Filip Wallays. Agristo has grown into a global player with an annual turnover of more than 600 million euros. The more than a thousand employees are spread over the branches in Wielsbeke, Harelbeke, Nazareth and Tilburg. The company recruits about a hundred new employees each year. Despite the tight labor market, the search is progressing. “In recent years, we have invested heavily in employer branding, and it pays off. But the best ambassadors are our employees. We call them our potato hunters,” says Hannelore Raes. “We take care of our people by focusing on education, reception policy and leadership development. In addition, all opportunities are good for a party. The intention was to celebrate our 35th anniversary last year. It could not continue, but this summer will make it. ” i. Lov! ”

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