The business started out in the 1940’s as a bakery that mostly made artisan breads, croquettes and other delicacies. By the 1960’s, the demand for the breaded, lightly fried food was so high that the company changed from a bakery into an automated vendor serving snacks from vending machines to hungry customers.
In 1968, the first franchise was opened at the Amsteldijk. Today, there are more than 70 locations serving the firm’s clients across the country. What sets FEBO apart from other automat vendors is that it is still a family owned business.
“I grew up in the company and we still use my grandfather’s original croquette recipe,” says Dennis de Borst, Director. Furthermore, the firm likes to source as many products locally as it can. In 1976, burgers were introduced into the food selection and the Kouwenhoven family, who breeds the FEBO’s cows near Amsterdam, has been the company’s single beef supplier since 1969.
FEBO is also responsible for its own production and logistics. Snacks are made daily fresh every morning and then shipped out to the various branches in time for the lunchtime rush. Even though some recipes have stayed the same from the beginning, the business is also making little changes to well-loved products in order to make them healthier and open to a wider range of people.
For example, many recipes now contain less salt and multiple vegetarian options have made their way onto the menu, including a veggie burger. The food isn’t the only thing getting an upgrade. “In the past, we’ve mostly been an all cash business, but now, we have several shops that accept cards and four locations that accept contactless payment options,” adds Mr. de Borst.
There are plans to make more stores contactless since there has been a 30% increase in turnover in the four shops that already offer customers that payment method. On a similar note, the firm introduced FEBO Drive in 2016 and has a few branches that are trying out a drive-thru window. There are plans to open up even more drive-ins at locations that are based outside of city centers, because people are more car dependent in the rural areas of the country.
Social media is a great outlet for us to interact with our customers and provide a little humour to their every day lifes. Dennis de BorstDirector
“It’s about offering our customers more convenience, because time is a precious commodity,” explains Mr. de Borst. A delivery service is also available to customers inside and outside of city centers, and there has been a sharp increase in the number of home and office deliveries over the past few years. People can order food for delivery directly from the FEBO website.
Also located on the firm’s website is a webshop where customers can buy FEBO themed apparel and accessories, dubbed ‘Haut Friture’. Popular items include sweatpants, slippers, hats and t-shirts. “We’ve also had various celebrities or well-known individuals wear our merchandise, such as the Dutch rapper Donnie,” says Mr. de Borst.
The company also did a special December-themed commercial with a FEBO-clad Sinterklaas. Limited edition pieces and lines are introduced throughout the year, keeping collectors and casual fans coming back for more. Other than consistently delivering on the promise of homemade and tasty snacks and giving fans of the brand several merchandising options to wear, the firm says ‘thank you’ to one deserving company every Friday.
“For a few years now, we’ve done what’s called ‘FEBO Friday’,” states Mr. de Borst. “One local business gets gifted a lunch for its employees free-of-charge.” Additionally, as a fun way to celebrate its 75th anniversary, the company set up a floating vending machine in Amsterdam for customers to purchase a tasty snack by boat.
Future plans mostly revolve around business as usual. Other than a few recipe tweaks and more technology making its way into the shops, no big changes are planned for this family-oriented firm. “We’ve been a constant in many families for generations and plan to keep offering them the food and space to make more memories together,” adds Mr. de Borst.
Freshly made food from local ingredients with control over the entire production process will keep FEBO a snack staple in the Netherlands for years to come.