On everyone’s lips
In the Lower Rhine region they have been busy harvesting licorice for almost six decades now. In 1950 a company was founded here which would go on to become one of the best-known trademarks in Germany. 330 of the company’s 450 employees work at the headquarters in Emmerich on the Rhine. “Our success story is very closely connected to the people here on the German-Dutch border,” says Bastian Fassin, who took over as manager of the family business from his father. “It was thanks to the people that we were able to rise to the number three in the German confectionary market.”
Emmerich. What is remarkable about the sweets market is its unbridled momentum. For Katjes this means order books that are constantly full and continuous growth. What began 59 years ago with the invention of a sweet little black cat has become a perennial favorite. A Lower Rhine success story. Over 50,000 tons of sweets are produced and wrapped in around 300 million colorful bags here every year. “Our quality standards are very high. There are no compromises,” the boss promises. There is no place for artificial aromas, colors or preservatives in Katjes products. The 36-year old is constantly reviewing the range of products. Just like his father Klaus, Bastian Fassin personally identifies with the Katjes products.
The author of the success story is Klaus Fassin, who had an ingenious idea in 1950. He used a recipe from his father, Xaver, for making licorice which the latter had brought back from Sicily. Klaus Fassin then made licorice using this recipe in the shape of a small black cat. That was the beginning of Katjes, which means “little kitty” in Dutch. Since then Katjes has been on everyone’s lips.
Family plays a major role at Katjes. And that’s why they place a great deal of importance on this social structure in Emmerich. The saying “the future lies in the hands of our children” is not just a catchphrase for Bastian Fassin; it’s real life entrepreneurship. “We are constantly providing for the next generation. The training of young people is something we care deeply about,” the Managing Director continued. That’s why the proportion of trainees at our company lies at a constant ten percent. In addition, Katjes gives employees who have become parents a “baby check” worth 1,500 euros per newborn baby to help the little one get off to a good start in life, which shows that this is a truly family-friendly company with a great sense of social responsibility.
There are always new faces appearing thanks to the continuous growth. 100 new staff were employed when the factory in Emmerich was expanded in 2003 and 2004. Another 60 new people joined three years ago when a new sweet factory was set up in Potsdam in Brandenburg. But the site in Emmerich remains the heart and soul of the company. For Bastian Fassin, one of the clear advantages of this location is the proximity to their Dutch neighbors. For Katjes products are among the most popular in the motherland of licorice. “For me Emmerich is the gateway to the world,” the business graduate says somewhat emotionally. “The European Union has become reality here, in the positive sense. Here in the country we are far away from the stress and hectic lifestyle of the city, yet so near to the major cities Düsseldorf and Amsterdam. That’s what makes the Lower Rhine region such an attractive place for companies to settle.”
Owing to the high quality of its products, Katjes can afford to charge up to 15 percent more than its competitors. Katjes now wants to further expand its market leadership in the premium sweets market with its new products “Berry Cassis”, “Yogu Berries” and “Little Harmonies”. “Fruit juice and pulp provide the natural taste of our premium products, which we market on the basis of the particularly high quality.” Finally, the second pillar of the Katjes company philosophy, alongside the focus on quality, is innovation.
Katjes Fassin GmbH + Co. KG
Telefon: +49 (0) 2822/ 601-0
Telefax: +49 (0) 2822/ 601-214