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Royal Brinkman's strategy:

Global volume and market knowledge for specialization and innovation

It's common knowledge that Royal Brinkman offers a wide range of horticultural products. "We have been playing this game for almost 140 years", says Commercial Director Jan Schuttrups when talking about Royal Brinkman's business strategy.

The horticultural supplier has been active since 1885, increasingly so on a global scale. What's less known is that Royal Brinkman also fulfills a 'manufacturer's role' owing to the chosen business strategy, as will be explained below by Jan and Ramon Verdel.

Jan and Ramon

Ramon is Royal Brinkman's Director of Purchasing, Product Management, and Innovation. Since 2019, he has been responsible for the purchasing of a broad range of horticultural products, their positioning, but also for their innovation. "Our team is concerned with the product of today, the product of tomorrow and that of the next five to six years."

For the general public, Royal Brinkman's manufacturer role may be most visible at Berg Hortimotive. Hortimotive, a producer of logistic systems, was acquired by Royal Brinkman in 2018.

"We are also specialists"
The past few-years, the company focused on selling products via its own webshop, with over 50% of many product groups already being sold online in the Netherlands. Internally, the company distinguishes between so-called 'added value solutions' and 'trade goods' (such as clips, hooks, horticulture twines, and crop rotation products). Jan: "Our specialists play a big role, indeed we also are specialists in many areas such as hygiene or crop protection. We use this specialist knowledge to support growers and to develop products. It's not common for regular suppliers to have an innovation department like ours."

A well-known example is the joint venture of Royal Brinkman and Agrobío, a Spanish production company for bumblebees and natural enemies for organic crop protection. Together with Agrobío, they have launched several innovations. Jan: "This collaboration is a true source of innovation. We are at the forefront of developing crop protection products with the goal of chemical-free cultivation by 2030."

In recent years, Agrobío and Royal Brinkman have launched several innovations.

Own mold, own product
Over the years, Royal Brinkman has started to cooperate more intensely with various manufacturers. Jan: "We either produce our trade products ourselves, or we let them produce." He offers the example of Valent, a product line including clips, hooks, and twine. Ramon: "Here, we translate market demand into a new product. For instance, the tomato clip that we introduced was slightly different from the one that was already available. Growers appeared to have a need for it."

The mold for the Valent tomato clip was developed and designed by Royal Brinkman. Jan: "We then ask an external party to produce the product for us. In this way, we take over some of the producer's work, such as inventory management and marketing. This is where Royal Brinkman's 'manufacturer role' comes in. "Our goal is to either be the source or to be as near to the source as possible."

The Valent tomato clip

Technical branch
Over the past ten to fifteen years, the horticultural supplier has increased its international activities. Ramon: "This enabled us to bundle international knowledge and to increase our sales volumes. As a result, we are now selling high-quality products while also developing new ones."

Jan highlights that Royal Brinkman also has a technical branch that delivers complete technical projects. Royal Brinkman Techniek is specialized in water, electrical engineering, and climate control. "We create and design our own pump, irrigation, and filter units."

Aside from their locations in the Netherlands, Royal Brinkman has built an international network with 14 local branches.

Product-market combinations
Given Royal Brinkman's Dutch roots, it is strong in high-tech. Ramon: "High-tech customers account for the largest share of our sales." However, being an increasingly internationally operating supplier, we realize that not every customer is ready for high-tech. Hence, the supplier works with multiple product lines. Jan: "We are constantly creating new product-market combinations."

Royal Brinkman offers signal roll in multiple versions

Making choices
The signal roll is an example of a product that is available in multiple versions matching specific markets, Ramon says. "Year-round cultivation doesn't exist everywhere. Growers that are engaged in year-round cultivation have different product demands than growers that quickly rotate their crops throughout the year. "Products should always be of a high quality while also being competitive, it's about finding the optimal price-quality ratio."

"Although the product range is still enormous, Royal Brinkman has made choices. For example, they no longer sell products for offices and canteens. Jan: "We shifted away from supplying everything. Now, the focus is on the horticultural assortment."

The UniMite, a product that ensures the distribution of biology in the crop, contains a patented smart disk. The disk plays a crucial role in distributing bugs without them dying.

Unique proposition
Ramon points out that companies actively seek collaboration with Royal Brinkman. Without boasting, he mentions that 'we're daily approached by companies that would like to collaborate'. Among these are companies that are not from the horticulture sector. Jan: "If the product is interesting, we sometimes help these companies to finish their product development."

When it comes to the development of new products, the knowledge of the Royal Brinkman specialists comes into play again. Jan: "We have the knowledge, the tools, and the technical expertise (thanks to Royal Brinkman Techniek). That's a unique proposition which we use to fulfill our promise: Let's improve together. We increasingly aim to function as a sort of funnel between the market and production companies to jointly improve the horticulture sector."

Royal Brinkman has created an internal purchasing team to strengthen it's global position when it comes to purchasing. Compare it to an in-house airport control tower for an internationally operating supplier.

For more information:
Royal Brinkman
[email protected]

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