"Filip Vanaken: "More engagement with growers"

Veiling Haspengouw changes course

2014 was an eventful year at Veiling Haspengouw. A new general manager, financial manager and a new sales manager were appointed. The cooperative has also been hit hard by the Russian boycott, since Russia was an important buyer for the auction and its growers. In the coming years, Veiling Haspengouw will show its new vision, mission and core values.


General manager Filip Vanaken

In September, the auction said goodbye to general manager Renaat Kuipers. The Board of Directors and he had different opinions on the operational implementation of the strategy. Filip Vanaken used to be financial manager, and has now become general manager. He knows the company inside out. "An important challenge is the development of a new strategy. This has received the name STAM2020. (STAM = Strength, Team Strength, Attention, Market Strength). "In the coming months, our new director will have to concrete this vision," says Luc Bels, chairman of Veiling Haspengouw. The new financial manager is Marijke Vanderstukken, and H-fruit's sales and marketing manager is Patrick D'Espallier (see photo on the right). Commercial manager Etienne Leclere is ill at the moment.


Financial manager Marijke Vanderstukken

Growers not involved enough
To formulate the new strategy, a lot of research was done. Service provider Coopbureau concluded that there are big differences between members. Also, the growers are insufficiently aware of the vision for the future. Another important aspect is that growers feel they're not involved enough in the auction. For that reason, it was decided to initiate talks with growers, staff and management. Recently, workshops have been held, sessions with staff, and home cafés. The latter were meetings to which growers were invited to speak their mind at the home of one of the executives. Everyone agreed to work together on a strong auction.

Six priorities

In the upcoming period, teams will work on six strategic priorities. The areas of attention are: increasing the market share through conceptual varieties and market segmentation, innovating by doing business sustainably, improving the profitability of companies, cooperating, sharing and exchanging essential information and combining market strength. To work on this, the auction started with that in teams early December.

Engagement
According to Filip Vanaken, there was a reason why growers were less involved. "A lot has changed, including the way of supplying. It used to be that growers personally came to the auction, where they would talk to staff. But that changed. After a while, growers didn't know what Veiling Haspengouw was working on, and it was said that the auction was too expensive. In future, we'll have to make sure prices will go down, and to keep helping our growers. Sharing information, and renewing engagement between growers and staff."

Crisis

According to Filip, Russia was an important buyer of the products. "A lot was sold to Russia, particularly because it was such an 'easy' market. It's a huge crisis, but we are actively looking for new opportunities. To be able to service new markets well, changes will also be made regarding varieties and cultivation. In addition, we will market our products in a new and professional manner."

In the context of a new business plan, in which the cooperative has to look for more financial resources, the cooperative is looking for possibilities to increase its own financial input, without appealing to the members. That resulted in selling the Meiveld to the 'Meiveld Koeling NV'. This sales was partially prompted by the fact that Veiling Haspengouw has been dealing with an overcapacity for a few years now: a refrigeration room.

www.veilinghaspengouw.be


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