Wednesday 29 May 2024
  • Triesteexpresso

Marcel Löffler, Julius Meinl CEO: ‘Our objective is to reach the €300 mln turnover milestone by 2025’

The ceo: "At this stage, we are in the South of Florida, we are in Chicago, in New York and definitely California is on top of the list, but rather in the second half of this decade, in the year 2025. We want first to close in South North and Middle West, then we'll move to California”

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Julius Meinl is an internationally successful Austrian family company founded in 1862 in Vienna. Julius Meinl is a global ambassador for Viennese coffee culture and today inspires people all over the world, just as the coffee house literati did in days gone by. In order to know more about their business ambition in Italy and worldwide, we interviewed the company’s CEO Marcel Löffler, who gave us an exclusive insight in the heart of the production company.

From Vienna to Italy, what is your business ambition?

“We almost consider Italy our home market, since we feel we are as present in Italy as ever. The thinking was always this one. When we started to go international we went from northern Italy and Austria to Center Eastern Europe.

La Cimbali

That was 2010-2015 then we started to go to Asia in China, Middle East in Dubai and we started to close Western Europe through France and England. And then in United States.

Today we are a company which is worth about two hundred millions in this year 2022, we’re at €250 million in terms of turnover and our ambition is to go to €300 million by 2025 and €500 million by the end of the decade.

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Our priority markets for this growth are Italy and the United States. We see Italy as our extended home market and there is space for growth for the company there. And in the USA we see a lot of relevance of our brand and story and we are also being seen from a global brand point of view: we want to become a global brand and we need to be also successful in USA.

The success we have had so far, the attractiveness of the brand, the potential of the market makes the US the second priority as growth market.”

Why did you choose Florida?

“When we entered in USA we looked in some markets that were higher attractiveness for european stories, but also the ones that were evolving: when we arrived, Texas was evolving and also did South Florida. We found originally a partner connected very well in Miami and that was the reason why we developed a strong influence there.

We then successfully started our business in South Florida and two years ago we acquired three small companies. Now we are, at this stage, a ten million company in the United States.”

What about California?

“We have had some partners there, but we need to go step by step. Our core business is horeca and you need to get to each city substance so that you can have your model with your sales force, with delivery, with maintenance that is really working. At this stage, we are in the South of Florida, we are in Chicago, in New York and definitely California is on top of the list, but rather in the second half of this decade, in the year 2025. We want first to close in South North and Middle West, then we’ll move to California.”

In USA there is a new approach: one is to arrive in the market through your coffee, the other is through the coffee of top brands, but the ones that are most loved in the USA. What is Julius Meinl’s approach?

“Of course we are proud of our coffees because we are also telling our story, of Vienna, the coffee culture when you take your time for a moment of indulgence. It’s a special treat. And this story is about a great quality of coffee, but also about a moment to enjoy and that’s what we bring to our partners. That is what differentiates us. We’re also very much into the service.

In the USA normally everything is fast and we found partners that were here to serve, to listen, to help especially in gastronomy, and then together we took quality and our story from Vienna, Europe, of enjoinment and taking your time.

Our proposal is not only coffee: is more then that. Normally in this viennese coffee houses you get inspired from the people and debates and the environment: that is what we want to transmit in USA market.

There are many different ways to get success, and a good fit to the American market.”

Sigep experience, with its record numbers, is still fresh. In this last exhibition Julius Meinl distinguished itself in partnership with AMPI: what can you tell us about the tradeshow? Is participating in this kind of events still relevant, after so many years with digital appointments?

Yes, it is always good to meet customers in person and in italian trade fairs are still very important for business. The record numbers of this last Sigep prove this impressively. We are very happy about the participation together with AMPI that gave us the occasion to liaise with the biggest Italian pastry chefs.

A unique opportunity to create a link between Italian pastry and the Viennese coffee house culture. As Italian pastryshops are the equivalent of the Viennese coffee houses and we represent excellence in coffee as these pastry chefs represent excellence in pastry.”

In June 2022 you have celebrated 160 years in Vienna and then in Vicenza in October: what does this goal mean for you, especially after the pandemic, and then the war, the inflation, the energy and raw materials crisis?

“In the 160 years of our company’s history, we have lived through and overcome numerous crises. In the past, too, there were wars, pandemics, oil crises, supply bottlenecks. It is certainly true that the current challenges are great, but so is our expertise. We focus on our strengths: premium quality & excellent service.

This is what our customers and consumers expect from Julius Meinl. That is what makes us so successful. We buy a large part of our green coffee directly, we have long-term relationships with our coffee farmers, some of them going back generations. We have initiated our own projects in cooperation with coffee farmers in the highlands of Columbia and Uganda. There is much more to report, but it would go beyond the scope of this interview.

In the next 5 years your plans are very solid: you plan organic growth at national level, acquisitions and retail. What can you anticipate?

Julius Meinl has been connected with Italy for decades. We share it´s passion for excellent coffee. The Italians demand the highest standards of coffee quality. To be a successful coffee brand in Italy is an honour.

We are very pleased that we are already one of the leading coffee brands in the top gastronomy in Northern Italy. Our expansion strategy is clear, but looking back at the past years, it is difficult to predict anything concrete. However, we are optimistic about the future.”

Which are the territories in which Julius Meinl needs to be more present and what has entered in your target?

“From a geographical point of view we will start to expand our focus on Central and South of Italy, while continuing to grow in Northern Italy, where we are an established coffee brand in the hospitality sector.”

In 2021 you have produced in Italy 13.000 tons of coffee. What are the numbers for 2022?

“We still produce a big part of our premium coffees in Italy. In 2022 even slightly more than in 2021, around 13.5-14 tons.”

Today companies need to reason also in terms of social and environmental impact: how is Julius Meinl proceeding in these 2 directions?

“We recently signed off on our 2030 Sustainability Agenda, which outlines our commitment to turning such words into reality. This includes converting our product line-up to 100% responsibly sourced coffees and teas, based on traceability back to an individual farmer or group of farmers, and switching to renewable energy for fossil free production through measures including the installation of photovoltaic systems in our plants.

We also promise to work towards zero waste, and lowering our emissions by measures such as switching from road to rail transport wherever possible.

Our sustainability ambitions are clear. Social and environmental responsibility will accompany every business decision we take, driving our long-term strategy and our impact on the world. This is expressed in our Generations Program commitment: “We act responsibly to ensure meaningful moments for future generations.” and will be established or brought to life in the organisation in management targets, remuneration schemes and related policies for all departments.

Ultimately, we will be judged by our actions, so our strategic sustainability plan tackles the challenges we face internally, as well as supporting the broader communities we serve. This plan will see Julius Meinl accelerate its existing efforts in sustainability to become a truly sustainable operation by the end of this decade.”

For the next 100 years, what are the directions that you will follow as of now?

“From being the first in Europe to offer ready-roasted coffee beans, to revolutionising the roasting process, everything Julius Meinl has done since 1862 ties back to the deep connection between the brand and Vienna’s coffee houses. As we look towards the next 100 years, we will continue to use our premium coffee and teas to share this special culture worldwide.

We are proud of our heritage and much of our success can still be credited to the basic principles that guided the business since 1862. Our partners and friends appreciate our expert service, our passion for our products and our premium quality.”

CIMBALI

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