The retail market in Holland has seen many changes in recent years due to turbulent economic times and unfortunately there has been a number of bankruptcies. Retail brands regarded as established players have collapsed like a house of cards and it seems like true entrepreneurship has been lost while these brands were busy with expansion.
Phrases like “the bank has cut off financial life-support to retailers” or “management was incompetent” have all too often hit the news headlines. A lack of innovation has been fatal to many businesses in these challenging times. Ultimately, those Dutch retail chains that have failed to invest in their customers, have failed themselves. As customers and market demand changes, succesful brands have adapted and focussed on consumer’s demands.
One successful chain in Holland bucking this trend is FEBO. Named after the Amsterdam street (Ferdinand Bolstraat), FEBO is a home grown Dutch company renowned for its approach to satisfying people’s tastes for snacks and treats on the go. Originally, FEBO was founded in 1941 as a pastry shop and became widely known for a typically Dutch snack: the croquette.
In the ‘60s and ‘70s, FEBO began to make innovation a way of life and grew from the pastrymaker into a snackbar. This development resulted in a distinctive invention: the automat. Customers can see that the snacks are freshly made and can self-serve from the heat-preserving automats. This direct service combined with competitive prices has given FEBO a unique position in the market, turning a snack into a phenomenon.
More recently, FEBO literally ‘launched’ and marketing stunt to bring a different and unique experience by opening a ‘Float-In’ shop on the water at the Prinsengracht in the centre of Amsterdam. This ‘drive-thru for boats’ captured the imagination of many locals and tourists alike. What’s next for FEBO a ‘Fly-In’ branch?
Consumers in Holland have never tired of the FEBO concept and love ‘getting a snack from the vending machine’, which itself has become a well-established, household term. Constantly pushing the limits, FEBO now has a delivery service and is planning a facelift for all 66 branches. Entrepreneurship is part of their DNA.
The lesson other Dutch companies can learn from FEBO is to innovate frequently and respond to changing consumer demands. This enabled FEBO to become the leading and enduring company it is today. The chain recently celebrated its 75th anniversary.