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An old, new, green packaging solution


Group Riem was founded in 1963 by Belgian entrepreneur Emile Nicoletti. He had been working in sales but was keen to set up his own company. He recognized the potential in the aerosol can to make this dream come true. From the beginning, the company has specialized in both the production of the cans and the development of their contents. Over time, a varied product range of household cleaners, care products and insecticides has been built up.

“The first product that Emile Nicoletti produced was a glass cleaning product called RIEM GLASS,” says President Nicolas Manise. “It still exists in our current product line-up under the name RIEM WINDOWS.” Mr. Manise has also recognized the ongoing potential of Group Riem’s successful concept, having acquired the company in October 2018 with two partners.

The acquisition represents the fulfilment of his own entrepreneurial ambitions. “Like Emile Nicoletti before me, I have always wanted to be my own boss,” says Mr. Manise. “Before taking over Group Riem, I worked in consultancy and travelled a lot. Now that I have a young son, I would rather be at home more.”

After looking around for a company that would allow him to do that, he alighted on Group Riem in May 2018. “The company had a clear deficit in its sales strategy and therefore great potential for growth,” notes Mr. Manise. “I'm convinced that with my consultancy experience, i will be able to steer Group Riem back into the right path!”

Mr. Manise has identified a four-prong strategy to take Group Riem forward and increase sales: “Besides strengthening the sales strategy, I want to expand the product range and look into other packaging forms. The success of alternatives to the spray can means that this is also an area in which we must compete. Another priority is export, which is minimal at present.”  

Finally, the company also wants to explore the options offered by the digital transformation and Industry 4.0. “At present, we do not have an internet shop but it is something we are seriously considering in order to tap into all possible sales channels.” Digitalization will, however, be a major part of its new strategy to increase sales. “Our sales force is being equipped with new digital tools to improve customer care,” outlines Mr. Manise. “We are also looking into automation of more of our production processes.”

Group Riem’s customers are primarily the major supermarket chains as well as smaller, independent outlets and wholesalers. Here it competes with much bigger names in the household care market. “The founder’s philosophy was to ensure that any new product he launched was at least equal in quality to that of the big brands,” says Mr. Manise. “That continues to be our strategy today and we recently carried out tests on all of our products to reconfirm that we are still ahead of our competitors.”

All of Group Riem’s products are developed and produced in Belgium, a key selling point for domestic buyers. The company also produces under private label as a way of keeping production lines operating at full capacity. “As sales of our own branded products grow, we expect to cut back on private label production,” notes Mr. Manise.

With just 22 employees, Group Riem generates annual turnover of between three and four million EUR. “We are small but effective,” insists Mr. Manise. “And we have plenty of room to grow. Since the use of CFCs was banned, aerosol cans tick many environmentally favourable boxes. First and foremost is the ability to continually recycle the metal in the cans. As the world wakes up to the disaster of our use of plastics, I think the aerosol can will be rediscovered as a green solution.”