Interview with Rob Peters.
In a few decades, Vermaat Group has grown into the largest catering and hospitality specialist in the Netherlands, by immersing themselves in clients, providing high-level service and attention to employees. In his interview with MT500, Managing Director Rob Peters mainly looks ahead: the future asks for even healthier, more sustainable and exciting catering solutions.
In just a few decades, Vermaat grew from a delicatessen store to a giant with over 500 hospitality locations, 5,500 employees, and a turnover of more than half a billion euros. Of course, we want to understand Vermaat’s success. Rob Peters reacts with great enthusiasm: “We became the leading premium caterer in the Netherlands by truly immersing ourselves in our customers. We first want to understand the goals, vision, and identity of our client. Then, we translate them into specific customized food and beverage concepts. An Amsterdam-based law firm has different needs than a tech company; yet, we are the main caterer for both customer groups. What our clients have in common is that they have extremely high standards; they challenge us to improve every day. Espresso bars with baristas, lunch buffets with a variety of healthy options, classic or adventurous executive dinners: we operate a multitude of hospitality concepts.”
“In the current tight labor market, companies view food and beverages as an important ‘satisfier’ in the work environment. International (fin)tech companies like Uber, Adyen, or Google find it important to offer varied and good quality food and beverages to their international teams. We excel at this because Vermaat's culinary heart is fueled by our Michelin-starred restaurants RIJKS and Wils. In addition, we are the hospitality partner for institutions including the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk museum, Concertgebouw, Circuitpark Zandvoort, Evoluon, MECC, and Efteling. We operate at the very highest gastronomic level when we cater state banquets in the honor gallery beneath the Night Watch, as we recently did during the visit of French president Macron.”
“At ARTIS, we offer a completely vegetarian range, and visitors find this fits very well”Rob Peters
Even at the top, having ambitions is important. Peters captures these in terms of social responsibility, health, and sustainability: “Because there is still much to gain in the world of food and beverages, like diversity and inclusivity. Everyone deserves the opportunity to work with us. About 7% of our employees are people with a distance from the labor market. We have an extensive learning & development program at all levels, and we are a training company for chefs and hospitality staff.”
When it comes to healthy eating, vitamins and fibers are important, as well as a gradual transition from animal to plant-based food. “At ARTIS, we offer a completely vegetarian range, and visitors find this fits very well! Another important theme regarding sustainability is the fight against food waste. We train our chefs and staff to become more aware of the amount of food we throw away. And how we can prevent this. In our Food Vision 2027, we have described our goals for a social, sustainable, and healthy future.”
Peters continues: “Since 2021, Join Program has been part of Vermaat. In every aspect, Join Program represents the future of catering and, above all: Crazy good food. The basis is a high-quality, diverse, and adventurous menu that changes daily. Lunch guests can view the offerings for the entire week on an app on their smartphones, which allows them to reserve, order, and pay for meals. The app is linked to our food management system, which records all nutritional information, allergens, portion sizes, and ingredient origins. The meals are prepared in a state-of-the-art central kitchen and served as individual and portioned meals by our teams in the company restaurant. Companies can join the Join Program and thus serve high-quality meals to their employees without an extensive team of chefs and with a relatively small kitchen. Booking.com was one of the first to embrace this concept, and we have just launched it at the new Booking campus, serving up to 5,000 meals a day! Join Program is first of all about high quality and adventure, but also about being more sustainable, better manageable, and more efficient. Nike, Mollie, and many other companies have also become clients of Join Program.”
Another important development is a result of the COVID pandemic: Working from home. Peters says: “People are partially returning from working at home because Teams meetings do not create a sense of connection between employees. Employees want to come to the office more often to meet their colleagues, and employers want to have the teams in the office more frequently. However, we now have higher expectations of that office: it is not just a place to perform your tasks but serves as a ‘clubhouse’ that buzzes with ideas and where events are regularly hosted. In this context, food and beverages play a crucial role. In the whitepaper titled ‘Magnetize’, published by Vermaat, we explore this in depth and advise employers on how to address this trend. Together, we ensure that the office becomes a magnet for your employees again.”
This article was published previously as a business story in MT/Sprout MT500.
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