Belgian cookies manufacturing Desobry is a firm believer in his lucky star. And as proof of its confidence in the future, the Tournai-based company has made substantial investments in its production tool.


Expand, Automation, Export

The 3 themes that Thierry Huet, CEO accompanied by the production manager, the IT& Data Management manager and the investment & maintenance Manager, came to explain in detail to 23 member companies and some of prospects of the Agoria Food & Beverage Technology Club. The event ended with a detailed visit of the new production unit's facilities.

The year 2020 of the Food & Beverage Technology Club could not have started better!

Expand

After having already made very large investments of around €20 million in the period 2009-2013, in 2018-2019 Desobry has again invested €18 million, this time in a new industrial site that takes over all activities related to the packaging of cookies & pralines in various assortments and their storage.

The company had previously been in the hands of the Desobry family between 1947 and 1981, before spending two decades in the hands of several major international food groups (notably the American Pillsbury and the British Grand Metropolitan). In 2000, an MBO of the management regained control of its destiny.

Automation to stay competitive

If the company relies so much on the automation of its production, it is obviously to be able to seize all market opportunities. Indeed, Desobry has been growing strongly, by around 10% a year over the last two years.

And it's not over yet. The production buildings, located in a residential area in Tournai, will have to move within 5 years. The current new building is located on a 5ha plot in an industrial zone. It occupies only 1/3 of the available surface. “It's not to leave sheep there!” says Benjamin Deperrieux, Head of Production.

Export to grow

The annual turnover is around €34 million with a workforce that can reach 240 people in the high season. 20% of sales are made in Belgium. Unlike their German competitors, who have a very large domestic market. Exporting is therefore essential because that is where the growth is.

Desobry biscuits can be found on the shelves of retailers in some 40 countries, in Europe of course, but also in the United States and Asia, particularly China.

And the United Kingdom? "This country accounts for 10% of their sales. A hard Brexit could have a serious impact on the business," warns Thierry Huet, Desobry's CEO.


For more information on the Food & Beverage Technology Club's activities, contact Francois de Hemptinne (francois.dehemptinne@agoria.be ).


What they thought of the event

  • Bart Devuyst, GEA: "Het is steeds belangrijk om feeling te houden met verschillende producenten en te horen hoe zij anticiperen naar steeds een evoluerende markt."
  • Marc Minne, Objective International: "The information we received about Desobry was very useful and interesting. This has given me a good picture of who they are, how they are organized and what plans they have for the future. The organization of the event was also good, a little less good in terms of observing the timing. All in all very instructive."
  • Ann Dhont, Spiromatic: "Heel toepasselijk voor de business van onze leden."
  • Mireille Janssens, Credendo:  "It was a very nice story. Interesting visit (new technology used for, but also the way of management by Mr Huet and his team)."