It started with one box of salmon

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Now Makro Netherlands sells more than 900.000 kilos of salmon a year

Jan van de Werken, Senior Category Manager Fish at Makro Cash & Carry Netherlands, gets up at 4.00 a.m. every morning. At 6.00 he contacts all 17 fish departments of Makro, and arranges for the fish they order to be transported from Makro’s fish platform at Scheveningen to the different Makro locations.

Van de Werken, who used to be a chef and worked at several top restaurants while also studying human resource management, combines all his past experience in his current position.

At the fish department of the Makro location in Barendrecht, close to Rotterdam, Van de Werken picks up a big salmon. “Look at this guy: all fresh and shiny! You have to get the fish in your hands to feel the quality.”

For his fish departments, Van de Werken can choose from 130 kinds of fish every day, bought by supplier Den Heijer from seven auctions in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Norway and Denmark. “Not everything is always available, due to variations in supply and availability. Our standard assortment consists of about 70 species.”

Sold within a day
Makro’s fish history started with a box of salmon, delivered in the back of an Opel Kadett 36 years ago at a Makro location, by fish supplier Den Heijer from Scheveningen. “And we still work together until this day. Den Heijer is our main supplier of shrimp and fresh wild fish. We even share an office in Scheveningen.”

Salmon is very important in Makro’s total fish assortment. “Around 50 percent of our fish sales consist of salmon products. Mostly fillets, around 85 percent. We also sell whole fish, mostly to restaurants and the Asian market for sushi and sashimi.”

The fish department has three kinds of salmon available: farmed Atlantic salmon from Norway, Scottish Label rouge salmon and wild sockeye from Alaska, in season.

“Salmon has a large turnover in sales. We notice regularly that when people think of Makro, they think of salmon. Our quality is always good, due to the high turnover rate. It’s usually sold within a day.”

Makro’s salmon supplier, Rodé Vis, is backed up by Norwegian farmer Leroy. “We chose Rodé and Leroy, because of the international cooperation between Makro/Metro: we are active in 25 countries. All countries have their own fish platforms, but for salmon, they mostly use Leroy. Leroy, being the second biggest salmon farmer, is able to supply all our locations. Leroy is connected to our platform at Concarneau, so everything goes through there.”

Best performing department
Farmed Atlantic salmon is the main focus product in Makro’s assortment. “We sell more than 900.000 kilos of salmon fillets a year.”

The fish department is one of the best performers of all Makro divisions, says Van de Werken. “It’s our flagship. Here we can show our customers everything we have to offer. We also organise tastings of new products.”

Staff is well trained, in order to be able to advise customers. “All our employees follow the external fish training at the Dutch food and retail trainings center SVO. They are all able to fillet and cut the fish according the customers wishes. Also, we have our own specialised coach,  who oversees all fish departments in the country.”

Last year, Jan van de Werken visited Norway to see salmon farms in action. “One of the reasons for my visit was to see where our product comes from and how the salmon is farmed. You can look that up via the internet, but seeing it with your own eyes is the best way to determine the quality of salmon.”

Makro and Metro
Makro Cash & Carry is the wholesale division of Metro, international specialist in wholesale and food retail. The company operates in 35 countries and employs more than 150,000 people worldwide. In financial year 2015/16, Metro generated sales of around €37 billion.

Metro/Makro Cash & Carry is represented in 25 countries with over 750 self-service wholesale stores. With a headcount of more than 100,000 employees worldwide, the wholesale company achieved sales of around €29 billion in financial year 2015/16.