Feb 26, 2024

Are you launching your formula in Germany? Meet team Deutschland

We are increasingly assisting retail, leisure and hospitality chains implementing their strategies across Europe. That is why – in addition to our offices in Paris and Barcelona – we opened an office in Cologne. And formed a team that deals exclusively with construction projects in Germany. An interview with project managers Bert te Brake and Carsten Berges who, together with project manager Eelco Timmermans, form the hard core of Team Deutschland.

‘We follow our customers’

“Basic-Fit, Rituals, Skechers, My Jewellery…”, summarizes Bert, when asked for examples of customers we build with in our neighbouring country. In short: large Dutch chains with ambitions in Germany as well as international brands that want to roll out their formula in several European countries. “For us, it’s actually very simple: we follow our customers. Wherever they want to pursue their ambitions, that’s where we go.”

Differences between construction in the Netherlands and Germany

“One thing you shouldn’t worry about is the permit process,” Bert adds, when asked about the differences between building in the Netherlands and Germany. “Take Basic-Fit for example. I’ve been trying to get a new license for a particular location for a year and a half. An office building that we want to transform into a sports venue. That’s a change in use. So you better roll up your sleeves then.”

“In Germany, it’s common to exclude all risks first. We think more in terms of solutions, allowing us to start faster.”

“But once the permit is granted, we’re able to start construction within two weeks. That’s typical Dutch, or at least typical Bulsink. A German entity will easily take six to eight weeks to do that. We want to complete projects as soon as possible so that the branch can open. In Germany, it’s common to exclude all risks first and define everything in detail in advance. We think more in terms of solutions, which allows us to start faster.”

The right local partners

“During preparations, we put a lot of energy into the collaboration between all of the stakeholders. That’s a matter of clear communication and staying on top of everything. As a coordinating party, we are the pillar between the customer, the landowner, and the architect. We work closely with German architects, who know the regulations and make sure that all the paperwork is in order.”

“Having the right local partners is also important in terms of execution. Companies that can share our vision and approach. Not every company can or wants to do that. There have been times when we’ve had to postpone the start of a project three times because of a barrier. But when the call comes in the next day that we can go forward, we’ve to switch gears again just as quickly. That’s how we negotiate with our partners. That’s the risk we take together.”

Flat organisation

Project Manager Carsten – a German native himself – agrees that our speed of operation as a general contractor is special in Germany. And an important pre for customers. He thinks that the flat organization of Bulsink plays a major role in this: “If our people face a problem at the construction site, they immediately work together as a team to find a solution. That makes a big difference. In Germany, employees are more likely to stop working and report the problem to their managers. So, everything just comes to a stop. It has to do with culture. In Germany, there’s more of a hierarchy when it comes to work structure.”

“Even in the background, everything is extremely well organised,” Carsten continues. “With the back-up support from our headquarters, we can get things done fast and easily. For new projects such as a new shop for Rituals, the first step is a site visit. Two or three hours after an inspection visit, we’re already sending a report to the customer. Not tomorrow or next week, but on the same day.”