Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

You are using software which is blocking our advertisements (adblocker).

As we provide the news for free, we are relying on revenues from our banners. So please disable your adblocker and reload the page to continue using this site.

Click here for a guide on disabling your adblocker.

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber
Kilian De Geyter, FreshCon:

"Even when you come with good ideas, retailers often turn you away. You have to get ahead of that"

After 12 years at Aldi, Kilian De Geyter decided early this year that he was ready for a new challenge. For ten years, he worked in the purchasing department when, at some point, he found out he wanted to go self-employed. "I decided to sit on the other side of the negotiating table to help producers through the experience I gained during my time at Aldi," Kilian says of his newly launched venture Fresh Retail Consulting, or FreshCon for short.

There was a moment late last year when Kilian decided for himself that he was going to leave the company. "I had a very nice period there, but at a certain point I felt that I had done everything and that the time had come to look at another challenge," he explains. "Once I made that decision, I started thinking about what I actually wanted to do next. I soon came to the conclusion that I wanted to help entrepreneurs who I had seen a lot pass by with good ideas, but had not always fully aligned them with the end customer or how a retailer wants to sell a product. So I started thinking about how I wanted to shape it. Eventually, the pieces of the puzzle fell together and the idea of FreshCon was born."

Grabbing attention
What exactly Kilian can then do for these entrepreneurs, he is clear about. "Sharing my experience. There are many entrepreneurs with good ideas for products in vegetables, fruit, and especially, convenience. However, you see that a lot of this is thought from their own vision or experience. It is often forgotten to think from the retailer's or even the end customer's point of view. Convenience is really 'hot' at the moment, and you can invent all kinds of things in it, but will a retailer or ultimately customer jump on it? Even though it can be a great idea, there are many reasons why something is not picked up. It is too expensive, the portions are not right, or the packaging is not sustainable. Moreover, you might not get it in the right place on the shelf, so it does not sell and a retailer does not see added value. These were things where, as a buyer myself, I had to say, 'I'm not going to go for it' or 'Nice idea, but we'd have to make some adjustments and that's too much work'."

"If you can get ahead of this, a buyer can only say: 'Good idea, we'll work on it'. I think I can add value here because of my experience, but also the relationships in the sector. In fact, it was the same with me. As a buyer, you are open to everyone, but for someone with whom you have a good relationship, people will more quickly free up 15 minutes. That's just how it works."

"Next, in those 15 minutes you have to be brief and to the point what the added value of your product is. Not just another packet of cheese, but knowing what makes you stand out. It's very important to state clearly and directly what the USP is," Kilian explains. "After all, retail is definitely open to new articles. Especially in convenience, they are always looking for that new hype or trend. I was also always very busy, so if you get the buyer's attention, you have to make sure it's good right away. Apart from the fact that it saves you a lot of time as a producer, you are also much more likely to get it launched then."

Sharing 10 years of experience
This first branch is strategic support, but Kilian also expects to add value to companies in sales. In this strategic and sales support, he particularly focuses on manufacturing companies. "SMEs in the sector that are growing and could use help," he continues. "This is because it is often the case that an entrepreneur starts a business and is the salesperson himself. As the business grows bit by bit, other things come into play, so he then wants to delegate the sales. Only then are you going to hire someone full-time? That costs a lot of money. A better solution appears to be to find someone externally for two or three days. Moreover, I can also give them 10 years of experience, which you would not normally be able to afford to get full-time. It creates a win-win situation."

Here he is looking at Belgian companies, but also, for example, Dutch companies that want to enter the Belgian market. "There is a lot of potential for the Dutch in Belgium, but you have to know how to approach it. Those are the things I want to focus on."

Getting in now
With FreshCon, Kilian has been active for a few months now, but the first invoices have been sent. "I'm nicely building everything up now. You can definitely see that there is a lot of need, but people just need to learn what I can do for them. Then I want to grow little by little. My ambition in this is not to create a very big business, but if after a year I can say that I have a nice base of customers, I will be very satisfied."

The entrepreneur therefore calls for people to get in now. "The sales I also need to develop further in, but in terms of strategic refocusing, I think now is the time to help companies. If someone comes to me in a year's time, I will already be a year out of procurement. Now I'm still in the ideal situation of carrying a lot of information and contacts from my time as a buyer, with which I can really help companies. I'm looking forward to it," Kilian concludes.

For more information:
Kilian De Geyter
[email protected]

Publication date: