La Glacière, a seasonal company that can be prepared all year round

With the heat wave and the return of the holidays, the ice cubes are tearing like hot cakes. All profit for the manufacturer La Glacière, even if summer is planned for winter.

With the return of sunny days then heat waverestaurants, bars, hotels, caterers and event organizers flocked to ice cubes. This bodes well for the few companies that, like the cooler in Brussels have made the production and distribution of ice cubes, crushed ice and dry ice their main activity. We’d be wrong, though, if we thought they’d only thoroughly work through the controllers this season…

“Producing ice cubes is not like operating a nuclear power plant, it is not complicated,” explains Koen Torrekenswho bought La Glacière in 2015 together with his brother Bart and their wives, and took over the management together with his wife in 2017. “The challenge is to have enough ice cubes available when the customer needs them. Our machines have a limited capacity; making very square, very transparent and very cold ice cubes takes time. In the summer we could never have sufficient capacity due to the explosion in demand. It is therefore necessary to produce them in the winter and to store them in anticipation of the summer. The difficulty returns inventorizewhich need to be well planned throughout the year.”

“Making ice cubes is not like operating a nuclear power plant. It is not complicated.”

Koen Torrekens

CEO, La Glaciere

Logistics can be arranged like clockwork

Who says shares, says cold store. Since La Glacière can only accommodate a few dozen pallets at its headquarters in rue de la Glacière, in Saint-Gilles, the company uses the services of the partner Fri Agra, along the canal in Molenbeek, to store most of its ice cubes, ie several thousand pallets. to note that Bart Torrekens, Koen’s brother, started the same company in Oudenaarde, from another company without shareholder bond, Icelander. “We are in solidarity with each other”, Koen laughs. In concrete terms, this means that in the event of a stock shortage, the “sister” company can supply La Glacière.

“The complexity of trade lives in his logistics“, Koen Torrekens adds. Because it is also a matter of fast delivery of the ice cubes. Allow half an hour to a maximum of an hour. La Glacière serves Greater Brussels and allowed himself a few raids as far as Leuven or Namur. In the capital, the few drivers divide the zones into districts. The main customers are: Brussels bars and restaurants, as well as caterers. “We supply between 200 and 300 restaurants in the capital, including starred restaurants, but also ethnic and small establishments. The clientele of the caterers is less numerous, but orders larger quantities.”

“The complexity of the company is in the logistics.”

Koen Torrekens

CEO, La Glaciere

The details are not left out. They also come to get ice cubes from her home, including her shop in Saint-Gilles. “If you’re throwing a party in your garden with a few dozen guests, you’ll need 30 to 40 pounds of ice cubes to keep your drinks cold. You probably won’t find that many at a time in a supermarket.”

75 to 80%

share of ice cube production in La Glacière’s revenues

La Glacière derives most of its income from ice cubes and 20 to 25% from the sale of dry ice.

As regards dry ice (-80 C°), which represents 20 to 25% of its turnover, is intended for the needs of laboratories as well as for catering establishments and event organizers who appreciate it for the smoke development it produces.

The Anglo-Saxon market

After two delicate years due to the coronavirus and its impact on the hospitality sector, La Glacière is performing well in 2022. The effect of a catch up post-covid with the return of weddings, parties and festivals as well as more than generous weather for two months.

“In addition to warming and the multiplication of warm days, we benefit from two phenomenacontinues Koen Torrekens: the fact that we consume less beer and more cocktails, with or without alcohol, on the one hand in bars and restaurants, and the arrival here of an Anglo-Saxon tradition ice cubes, on the other hand: Americans and English add it everywhere, in their soft drinks, their alcohols… So private consumption of ice cubes is also increasing in our latitudes.”

Excluding viruses, activity is in structural growth. To the point that Koen Torrekens is now striving for enlarge the foundation of his business, a comparison as complicated as managing his logistics. “We have the pros and cons of being based in the city, he says: it’s difficult to expand, but at the same time we’re close to the heart of Brussels’ hospitality industry, where it passes.”

So it’s not no coincidence that La Glacière is 200 meters away from its ancestor, born in 1875 (and closed in 1993) on the hills of Saint-Gilles, in the street that gave it its name: from there it melts on the city, its bars and restaurants…

The summary

  • With the return of sunny days, restaurants, bars and event organizers rush on ice cubes.
  • That’s all profit for the few companies that, like La Glacière in Brusselshave made the production and distribution of ice cubes their main activity.
  • If demand explodes in July and August, production will be spread over the whole year, so that must skillfully manage the storage and logistics of ice cubes to meet summer needs.
  • Some recent developments boost their consumption, including the adoption of an Anglo-Saxon tradition, the return to favor of cocktails, not to mention the effects of global warming.
  • Excluding covid, the activity of La Glacière is in structural growthunderlines his boss Koen Torrekens.

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