Established in California 130 years ago, 2009 saw the US firm set up a new business unit for Europe supported by a handful of local growers. Today, Driscoll’s employs 120 people in Brabant across its EMEA business headquarters in Breda and its distribution centre in Hazeldonk.
Mieke Pulles, EMEA corporate communications supervisor at Driscoll’s, believes the firm’s Brabant location has supported this growth. “Our business model is based on year-round supply,” she explains. “We invest in natural breeding to make sure we always deliver the best quality possible. There are a lot of soft fruit growers near Breda and it’s important for us to be close to them. Both for selling and producing fruit, it’s a convenient location.”
Sustainable distribution of fresh product all-year round is a core goal of Driscoll’s. From its Hazeldonk distribution center, the company delivers fresh products to diverse markets including Sweden, Germany and the UK. According to Pulles, Driscoll’s close links with local growers are also important when it comes to logistics. “Breda is very close to the Belgian border and not too far from Germany, which means it’s a good location for distribution too,” she says. “In the future, we’d like to do as many direct deliveries from grower to retailer as possible.”
Driscoll’s EMEA HQ has a very young team with an average age of 36. Pulles believes that Brabant’s highly educated, multi-lingual labor pool helps contribute to the company’s on-going success. “In Breda there are several universities of applied sciences which is very helpful, including NHTV and Avans here in Breda,” she says. “Many employees in our commercial team have an education background in tourism, which provides new languages. That’s certainly very convenient.”
Its Brabant location has also helped Driscoll’s fill specialist vacancies. “We need a large number of what we call ‘green profiles’ - employees with a study background in agriculture,” Pulles explains. “The HAS University of Applied Sciences in Den Bosch has specialist higher education courses in agriculture and we hire graduates from the school.”
In the US, Driscoll’s is a household name. In Europe the company’s short-term goal is to “put our brand on the map”, says Pulles. “We’re a combined marketing organization and producer, so we have quite a unique business model. BOM Foreign Investments understands that and is very good at helping us reach important stakeholders that we need relationships with to grow as a company.”