"We deal with Mother Nature and need to take care of it."
Lisette Jacobs is director of HR, Communications & Sustainability at potato processor Lamb Weston/Meijer. Lisette explains: "To put it simply, we make potato products, such as fries and potato flakes for the food industry." The head office has been located on the Topaasstraat in Breda since January 2021. The company was founded 25 years ago and has four factories spread across the Netherlands. There are also factories in the United Kingdom, Austria, and Russia (a joint venture).
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT LAMB WESTON/MEIJER?
Our company has about 1800 employees spread over twenty countries. We have four factories in the Netherlands, so most people live and work in the Netherlands. There are many different tasks to fulfil within our organization, factory workers, but of course we also have the commercial side.
Our colleagues live all over Europe and the Middle East. They often work from home and travel a lot. There are also colleagues who support the underlying processes such as finance, IT, planning and customer service. In addition, there is another group that is focused on innovation and bringing new products to the market. They have a function at the location in Kruiningen (Zeeland), or at the head office in Breda.
It is important for us to create diversity in our teams and to have a good mix of Dutch and international employees. Breda helps us with this with a central location, good infrastructure in regard to airports and a pleasant environment for international people and their families. There is an international school here, which ensures that when families from abroad relocate here, their children can continue their education. An expat centre has also been opened to provide more support in the integration of families in the region and in the city.
WHY ARE YOU BASED IN BREDA?
The central location is key, providing greater access to the labour market for certain positions. Breda is well connected to the larger cities but also internationally. We had a commercial office in Breda for four years, and therefore already had a good relationship with the municipality, they provided support in finding our new location. And Breda just feels good.
I also think it's important to stay connected with your future employees. That Breda has strong schools, such as Avans and Buas, is a plus. These attract young talent from Breda and beyond and it is the partly up to us, as companies, to ensure that they also stay here. The fact that we keep talent inside is very important. We are getting older, we have to work longer, we need new people. So, you need to keep investing in this. That is certainly an area of focus at Lamb Weston/Meijer.
HAVE YOU LIVED IN MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD? HOW HAS YOUR EXPERIENCE BEEN IN BREDA?
I live in Breda and what I like is that it has elements of a village while having the advantages of a big city. Each district has its own characteristics. Breda does not feel overwhelming, it has nice local shops and good sports facilities. It is easy and safe to move around in this city, which brings with it a great sense of freedom. I think these are also attractive factors for people who come from abroad to settle here.
In the southern Netherlands people generally like socializing and entertainment, the ‘Burgundian life.’ The people in this city are open and social. That's how I experience it myself. The fact that Breda embraces people from other parts of the Netherlands and abroad makes it easier to connect. This was my experience when I moved here about seven years ago. We've lived in many countries, so I know how hard it can be to find your place.