AGF Overtoom is situated in the Food Center in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. They're active on three fronts - wholesale, hospitality supplies, and imports and exports. "Until the pandemic hit, sales to the hotel and catering industry were booming," begins sales manager Matthew van Gestel. "Then the COVID-19 measures were implemented. And sales to the greater Amsterdam hospitality sector suddenly ground to a halt. That industry represents a large part of our sales. It's what made us big. When that sales branch went into lockdown, we had to make choices."
"Our doors open for wholesale clients every day at 05:00. These are mainly ethnic supermarkets throughout the Netherlands. However, our business is based on supplying hospitality companies from Amsterdam and surrounds. Besides fruit and vegetables, we also supply food and non-food items to them," continues Matthew.
"Our strength lies in fast service and flexibility. We deliver seven days a week at the time desired by the customer. And we can be reached directly by telephone between 05:00 and 16:00. We have a night shift, which starts at 22:00. They prepare all orders that come in via WhatsApp, e-mail, or INONE."
Sales manager Matthew van Gestel is responsible for new business export and hospitality sector sales.
"We've been doing small-scale exports for several years now. Those go to clients in Finland and France. They mostly buy Turkish fruit and vegetables. But the wholesale business and sales to the hotel and catering industry were doing well. So, until last year there was no direct focus on expanding exports. However, when the coronavirus hit, our sales declined. Of the 80% that we sell to the hospitality sector, only 30% remained. That's when you start scratching your head," Matthew says.
Last week, a Turkish TV station did a piece about AGF Overtoom:
"All the credit goes to the company's owner, Mustafa Ozdemir (photo right). He discussed things with me and his nephew, Kurty Ozedmir. He said we should concentrate on exports to keep the business afloat. In this way, he managed to keep the whole team together. He didn't have to let people go. The three of us drew up a plan."
"It focused on exports and trying to increase them. Now, more than a year later, we've increased our turnover. That's through export customers. And we're now doing business every week. That's with companies from not only Denmark, Finland, and Norway. But Sweden, Germany, England, and France too," Van Gestel explains.
AGF Overtoom doesn't only make daily purchases from its Dutch and overseas partners. Its direct imports have also been increasing in recent years. "We've been partners with two Turkish companies since 2014. One delivers on Mondays and the other on Thursdays. So, we can guarantee fresh Turkish fruit and vegetables to our customers. These are either the ethnic market or fellow suppliers. We've made a real name for ourselves with our Turkish imports. We now import various goods directly from several countries. And there's light at the end of the tunnel again."
General Manager Kurty Ozedmir has 23 years of fruit and vegetable sector experience.
Europe's now relaxing its COVID-19 rules. Exports to the hospitality industry are also on the rise again. "We've remained loyal to our clients, even during this difficult time. We always provided the same flexibility and service. Even when the orders were much smaller. That's paying off - our customers have remained loyal to us too. We've built up a good name in the region," continues Matthew. "Mention AGF Overtoom in Amsterdam, and we come across favorably. Chefs who've started working elsewhere are keen to continue with us. We're very grateful for that."
"We're ambitious and want to continue expanding in the future. The hotel and catering industry's prospects look good. Our wholesale activities have continued to run well. And we'd like to keep increasing our exports. To realize this growth, we do need larger premises. We're therefore pleased with the Amsterdam municipality's plans. They want to restructure the Food Center. We've taken an option on a property. It's three times the size of our current site. For us, the expansion can't happen fast enough," concludes Matthew.