Belgian Lotus Bakeries keeps on growing: later this year, the company will be opening a factory in the United States. It is a historical step for the company: for the first time, Lotus will be making speculoos abroad.
2018 was a record year for Lotus: CEO Jan Boone announced that the dividend will be almost 50 % higher this year - to reach a third of recurring gross company profit. "Compared to other quoted companies, it is fairly modest," Boone admits. "Over the coming years, we want to distribute a third of the profits and invest two thirds in the company."
Those investments are mostly situated abroad, since the growth potential is highest there. In the second half of 2019, Lotus will be opening a speculoos factory in North Carolina. This is a first: never before has the company manufactured its speculoos outside of Belgium. "Just like in 2018, we will be targeting the US, France, Germany, China and the UK. We keep growing in those markets. If we invest there, it will yield big results right away," says Boone.
Lotus is also active in the growing market of 'natural snacks': candy that does not contain added sugars. Most of these are not manufactured by Lotus itself, but all that could change in the future: "Brands such as Nakd, Trek and Kiddylicious are manufactured in the UK by various suppliers. That will not change for now. Our strategy is to manufacture the products of our big brands ourselves. It is not yet clear when we will do that," Boone concludes.
The UK is also an important market: Lotus continuously imports products from the UK to Europe and vice versa. Boone is not worried about Brexit, though: "We are prepared for a hard Brexit, even if it is not what we would prefer." Such a scenario would favour natural snacks but turn out disadvantageous for speculoos. Slowdown at customs would not be as big of a deal for Lotus as it would be for other manufacturers, as its products do not pass their expiration date until after a year.