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Claus-Pural: dynamic development as international wholesaler

by Redaktion (comments: 0)

They have only just moved into their new premises in Baden-Baden, and once again it’s still hardly big enough. The wholefood and health food wholesaler is developing at a fantastic rate, in the international business in particular. In more and more countries, consumers are responding favourably to the quality brands it sells. The decisive factors are professionalism and internationalism. The company employs 160 people, 30 of whom were appointed in 2008 alone. Shortly, a 100 m² demonstration shop is going to be set up in the entrance to the new company building. (Picture: Pural’s managing director Ulrike Claus in the new office)
“My goats, they’re fantastic, aren’t they!” says the senior company head Heinz Claus (picture), pointing enthusiastically to a herd behind the new building for administration and warehousing. The payment the company had to make for siting the building there was put to good use: a nature reserve was created adjacent to the enlarged commercial site on the Iffezheimer Düne that is now grazed by a flock tended by a shepherd. They had a long tussle with the city and the previous land owner to extend their premises, but in the end the land was bought and the building erected.

Two years ago, in September 2006, everything was finally ready. The planning had been completed and it was time for construction to begin. In July 2007 the new extension, that more than doubled the size of the company premises, was finished, and the warehouse space was increased to around 8000 m². The volume of the warehouse – for optimal storage and much better operations - was trebled to 46 500 m³. Now the previous 3000 m² warehouse and administration wing all ‘belongs to the French’. This part of the premises houses PurAliment France, the most rapidly growing part of the company, and its 50 employees. The managing director is Ulrike Claus, the daughter of the founder of the company. (Picture: German and French employees work side by side at Pural)

The total turnover of Claus-Pural from all its activities rose in 2008 by 10 million euros to 66 million – a growth rate of 16 %. This year, France, where the company supplies 1200 retailers, excelled with growth of 50 %. By contrast, in Germany, where 1600 specialist wholefood and health food shops are supplied, growth was ‘only’ 11 %, and in Austria and Switzerland 7-8 %. Thus, within five years the turnover of Claus Reformwaren GmbH, PurAliment GmbH and the subsidiaries in Switzerland and Austria was doubled. (Picture: View of the new office)

One year after the new warehouse (4700 m²) was opened, Heinz Claus is both happy and a little anxious when he says that they have almost reached full capacity. He explains that the 600 m² chilled facility that is incorporated into the new warehouse had been urgently needed, since the fresh food departement had expanded disproportionately. The company’s 14 lorries (picture on right) are always on the road, because the company itself collects two-thirds of the goods from the manufacturers.

“Our basic idea is to grow in tandem with the manufacturers’ brands and to double their turnover within three years,” is how Heinz Claus defines the target, a target that he says he has often achieved in the past. The company now has 270 suppliers, not only in the core countries – Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria – but also in Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands. A condition new suppliers must fulfil is having labelling in two languages. “We want to be sales partner number 1 or 2 for any manufacturer,” is Mr Claus’s aim. (Picture below: Discussion on the terrace with a new organic wine supplier from France)

“We appreciate the development work put in by many manufacturers, and we want retailers and consumers to receive the best possible products,” is how Heinz Claus describes his approach to suppliers. Recent additions to the stock of suppliers are Naturata, Bauck, Beutelsbacher, Herbaria and Salus (for the specialist trade only). He also sees Claus-Pural as a mediator between French manufacturers and the German market. “Danival, Biofournil and Coteaux Nantaise are important suppliers for our company. Conversely, through us, firms like Andechser, Taifun, Vitam, Öma and Dr. Hauschka are becoming well known in France. The range of Claus-Pural health foods in Germany comprises 8500 articles, with 500 – 1000 new items being added every year. Products that sell less well are then de-listed. A new phenomenon since the markets between the health food and wholefood industry were opened up is that more and more health food manufacturers (for example Salus, Heirer-Cenovis and Vitam) would like to be listed not only by Claus Reformwaren but also by Pural (that supplies mainly wholefood shops).

Working exclusively with the specialist trade, Claus-Pural supplies 24 countries worldwide. “In addition to 18 countries in Europe, we send goods to Russia, New Zealand, Hongkong, Japan and Iceland.” Stick-on labels are produced in Chinese for Hongkong, which could turn out in the medium term to be the stepping stone to China. In the case of the wholefood range that goes to Saudi Arabia, information collars in Arabic are put on the items. The growth rate of business abroad, outside the four core countries, is a phenomenal 218 %. “However, these 20 countries as a share of our total turnover represent only 4 %, and that is achieved with 116 customers,” he says, in qualification of the huge growth rate. But this could well be a promise of things to come, since the demand for wholefood products in many countries within and beyond Europe is rising markedly. “It takes a great effort to open up new cities and countries,” says Heinz Claus, but he is convinced that it is all worthwhile in the long run.

Although the company’s aim is to make manufacturers’ brands well known and to have them in the company catalogue that customers use to place orders, Claus-Pural’s own brands, Pural and Eubiona, are growing continuously. The Pural product range now consists of 700 articles that are supplied to the retail trade carrying their own logo. The range includes bakery goods, vegetarian and gluten-free products, plant-based spreads and 60 natural cosmetics lines by Eubiona.

New marketing campaigns are being launched. A brochure with an initial print-run of 160,000 has been produced for the health food sector. Since September, a flyer accompanied by an A1 size poster has been brought out once a month. (Picture: Ulrike Claus with her father Heinz Claus and the herd of goats in the background)

The company has been able to improve its internal organisation by introducing electronic commissioning of goods (see picture on right) so that articles don’t get confused with one another.Using hand-held scanners to register items, the data capture equipment records 50,000 picks a day. Two-thirds of picks are, however, responsible for one-third of turnover, which means that breaking up a pack continues to be expensive. It is mainly the health food sector that frequently orders very small numbers of items, the bane of all wholesalers’ lives. Heinz Claus points out that 50 % of orders are now sent to the wholesaler electronically. And the internet is used increasingly in the data management of the product ranges. Every two hours a lorry is loaded for the German-speaking countries. Wholefoods now account for about two-thirds of turnover, and health foods for one-third.

Lines that are growing particularly well include natural textiles. Heinz Claus says that with Cotton People the company is achieving a turnover of around 700,000 euros, despite the fact that they supply only 300 customers. “We have grown this business by 30 % in 2008,” says a very enthusiastic Mr Claus. He points out that an increasing number of natural textile retailers are buying their stock from his health food wholesale business.

Company history: the firm Claus Reformwarenvertrieb GmbH was founded in 1964 by Heinz and Sonja Claus in Baden-Baden. They developed their health food wholesale business in Baden-Württemberg, especially in the west of the Federal State. In 1991, Mr Claus ventured abroad and in Austria he rescued Bio-Vollwert, a company founded in 1976. In 1992 Claus GmbH became responsible for the French firm PurAliment that was founded in 1907 in Paris. In 1994, Claus GmbH took over the pioneer of the Swiss health food movement – the firm PHAG, that was founded in 1895 in Basel and today has its headquarters in Gland. Since 1996, the subsidiary Pural Naturkost GmbH supplies its own brand PURAL to specialist wholefood shops all over Germany. The name contains the message: Pural is derived from the French words pur = pure/natural and aliment = food. In 2005 the company’s own brand of natural cosmetics, food supplements and household goods was relaunched, and now Eubiona is a certified organic product line. (Picture: Paternoster elevator in the small goods warehouse, with 800 articles per section)

The whole Claus family works in the firm: the founders Heinz and Sonja Claus (both 69) and their daughter Ulrike Claus (44), her husband Fritz Großholz, and Beate (42) and Christoph Scharfeberg.

Tip: www.meinpural.de, www.claus-gmbh.eu

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Germany

France

Wholesale


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