Beyers Koffie is building a new hall next to its factory on the A12 in Puurs-Sint-Amands. The Belgian coffee company makes coffee from companies such as Amazon, Lidl and Aldi USA. “In the next eight years, we want to triple our sales, also through acquisitions,” says CEO and co-owner Marco Ciaramelli.
An FFP2 mouth mask stops the corona virus, but not the pungent smell of freshly ground coffee. This becomes apparent while Marco Ciaramelli shows us around his coffee factory along the A12 in Puurs-Sint-Amands. ‘Beyers Koffie has been the largest coffee factory in Belgium since 2016, when Douwe Egberts closed his factory in Grimbergen. Every year we process 20,000 tons of green coffee beans, ‘says the CEO in English, with an Italian accent.
The factory will soon be a third bigger. Ciaramelli opens an outside door, and suddenly we look out on a yard with excavators digging a two-meter-deep construction pit. ‘We are building our new hall here,’ says the CEO. It costs 3.5 million euros and will create 25 jobs in the coming years. On Thursday, Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (N-VA) and Minister of Economy Hilde Crevits (CD&V) knocked the first pillar of the new building into the ground.
The ministerial visit shows that Beyers – unknown to the general public – is a European top player. 90 percent of the coffee goes abroad. Especially Europe, but also the US and South Korea. Beyers makes almost all coffee for the American e-commerce giant Amazon and retail chains such as Lidl, HEMA, Kruidvat, Carrefour, the French supermarket giant E.Leclerc and the American branch of Aldi. We even see coffee from one of the most famous coffee brands in the world roll off the production line.
Growth and acquisitions
The new production hall is part of the ambitious growth plan that Ciaramelli is working on. “This factory has to grow by half,” he says.
Has been making coffee since 1880, mainly for the private labels of retailers such as Amazon, Lidl, HEMA and Carrefour
- Turnover (2019-2020): 77.9 million euros.
- Operating profit: 5 million euros.
- Net profit: 4.3 million euros.
- Owners: Sucafina (85%) and management (15%).
- 160 employees in the factory in Puurs-Sint-Amands and 40 employees in a small factory in Italy, which packs roasted coffee into capsules in Belgium.
But that too is only part of the much more ambitious, broader picture. ‘In eight years’ time, Beyers Coffee should be three times as big as today. We rely to a large extent on acquisitions for this. Especially in Europe, where we know the market well. I think there will be a takeover wave with private label producers like us. There has already been a wave of consolidation among the major well-known coffee brands. ‘ An example is the merged company JDE Peet’s, the parent company of Douwe Egberts.
Ciaramelli is a privileged observer of the sector, and of Beyers. He was not there when Karel Beyers bought a coffee roaster in the Seefhoek in Antwerp in 1880, but he was when it was taken over in 1995 by his then employer, the Italian group Kimbo. ‘They sent me to the then brand-new factory here on the A12. In 2014 I had to look for a buyer for Beyers for Kimbo. I found it in Switzerland, at Sucafina. That is one of the largest coffee traders in the world, with a turnover of 1 billion euros in 29 countries. Sucafina has had the majority since then, but I bought 11 percent of the stock. Two other directors hold a further 4 percent of the capital. Sucafina supplies coffee beans, but when competitors offer a more competitive price, we choose them. That has been agreed with Sucafina. ‘
Commute from Italy to the A12
For 26 years, Ciaramelli has been commuting between Italy and his flat in Belgium and the factory along the A12. He has seen the sector and the factory change radically in recent years. ‘When I started 25 years ago, the classic block of ground coffee had been the most popular product par excellence for decades, but Senseo revolutionized its pads in the 2000s. We responded to this immediately, by making pads for Aldi and later for other companies. ‘
When I started 25 years ago, ground coffee was the norm. In our new hall we will only make coffee in capsules.
About ten years ago, history repeated itself with the coffee capsule. It was made famous by Nespresso and the TV commercial with George Clooney, but the capsules have only really started booming since 2012, when private labels also started making them. We immediately jumped on the cart. ‘
Today the capsules are still growing with double digits – so more than 10 percent per year. ‘We plan to only make coffee in capsules in our new hall. But we also continue to make packaging with beans, ground coffee and the pads. Coffee brands can come to us for all types. That means that we attract customers from all over the world. ‘