Heylen Group acquires PAB and expands business portfolio in retail and hospitality segment

Food Heylen Group

With the acquisition of PAB, wholesaler in the food segment, RV Food (Heylen Group) acquires a complementary partner within the retail and on-trade segment of the holding company.  The acquisition of PAB is the result of a search for a suitable buyer as part of the succession of Ludo Sleurs, who was active in the food sector for 50 years.

With PAB, based in Mechelen, Heylen Group takes over a renowned name within the retail industry and strengthens its food cluster. Besides being a wholesale distributor in the food sector, PAB acts as a “sparring partner” for brands such as Innocent, Tabasco, Kikkoman, Maille, Weight Watchers, Tony Chocolonely, Benecol and others and offers market, product, marketing and sales knowledge, as well as support regarding product innovations. “As a brand builder, PAB represents blue chip principals in retail as if they were its own brands. Our customers are international food producers with both chilled and non-refrigerated product lines. In concrete terms, the brands call on PAB’s regional market and product knowledge, which in turn provides the appropriate support to the brands with the aim of maximizing brand growth. We do this in both retail and on-trade sectors within the Benelux,” says Frédéric Vloeberghs, brand new CEO of the PAB Group.

Complementary partners

For RV Food, which has been part of Heylen Group under the food cluster since 2015, the entry of PAB within Heylen Group means the arrival of a new, complementary partner. “As an importer and distributor of food brands towards the industry and the hospitality sector, RV Food’s mission is to source and distribute the best products and also to continue to surprise and trigger customers with new brand creations and developments. A goal that PAB also has in mind,” says Gert Van de Water CEO of RV Food.

“Where RV Food specializes in the import and distribution of food to industry and the hospitality sector, as well as in private label retail, PAB’s focus lies on retail and the hospitality sector. Both companies have their own expertise, but there is also overlap in the ambition to create new food concepts and to further develop existing brands. This joint ambition is, among other things, the start of a complementary collaboration. This not only benefits the identity of both companies, but also gives suppliers and customers more perspective,” says Johan Steyaert, also CEO at RV Food.

Farewell after 50 years

“After 50 years I’m saying goodbye to PAB and it’s time to pass on the torch to an experienced management team that in turn is well equipped for the next 50 years,” says Ludo Sleurs, former CEO of PAB.

“As brand builders, the relationships with our customers and stakeholders are invaluable. In order to guarantee the continuity of the company, we have therefore started to look for the right party to help shape that continuity. We found that partner in RV Food and Heylen Group. By joining forces, PAB’s position within food service, industrial sales and food creation will be strengthened. This gives both RV Food and PAB just that extra scale and the means to serve both principals and customers even better”.

This continuity will also be guaranteed by Frédéric Vloeberghs, who will take over as the new CEO. Peter Verlinde, CFO of PAB and Johan Steyaert and Gert Van de Water, both CEO of RV Food, will strengthen the management team. The goal: to form one coherent whole with a clear focus on expertise and strong long-term ambitions within the food sector.

About PAB

PAB is a leading food supplier on the Belgian market for both dry and dairy & chilled food. It acts as a sparring partner and brand builder for food producers in the Benelux market.

PAB was founded in 1957 and, as a subsidiary of Danone, is responsible for the commercialization of the group’s dry food products in the Benelux. In 2002 PAB became an independent company. In 2008, PAB Chilled & Dairy Food was established as a separate entity, led by Frédéric Vloeberghs. Since then, PAB has grown into a successful company with 2 well-balanced business units.

About RV Food

Rv Food was founded in 1959 and evolved over the years from a modest jam factory into a full-fledged company that imports food from almost all over the world and distributes it to customers in the Benelux and France.

In 2015, Johan Steyaert and Gert Van de Water, together with Heylen Group, took over the company “Ronald Vandeputte” with the mission to look for only the best products destined for distribution, but also to continue to surprise and trigger customers with new creations and developments. RV Food’s portfolio includes high-quality pastas, jams, olive oils and tomato preparations. Belcampi, Léonce Blanc, Lesieur and Petti are part of the brand portfolio.