Rexel, on its own transition from wholesaler to solutions provider


Can you reflect on your relationship with Alfen and how it provides value?

The Netherlands is ahead of many other countries
for EV charging installation and Alfen’s charging equipment is very advanced and has been ‘smart’
from the beginning. It has lots of tried and tested features, like support for active load balancing and so takes a significant and growing share of the charging products within Rexel. While Alfen develops its EV chargers for the end user, it also understands the needs
of the installer which is great!

We also already talked about the need to solve
customer challenges, rather than just sell products,
and Alfen does this well.

RL: We really do act as partners, with excellent
two-way discussions and listening, so we can find
the most value together and I can only see our relationship getting stronger.

We sell A-grade products so that they last and we pay particular attention to our supply chain from both an environmental and ethical perspective. We also try to steer our clients to use products that are sustainable,
e.g. fully recyclable. Historically, clients tended to request a specific product; today they are more likely to ask for advice about how to solve certain challenges which gives us the opportunity to push more sustainable products.

What is your own sustainability philosophy in
relation to the products you sell?

As a wholesaler, we work with a range of specialist suppliers across different markets. We recognised a few years ago that there was a need, and opportunity, to accelerate adoption of various sustainable/green solutions and so we set up dedicated specialist teams to focus on them. Our core business model is based on sales of significant volumes and we tend to look at least 3 years ahead in that respect. We expect energy transition to continue to drive ever increasing volumes in coming years and we therefore stock a significant number of relevant products. Our experience is that, as more and more new technology becomes available, our clients are increasingly looking for a partner to consult with and that plays to our strengths as a brand independent organisation.

The transition is also driving changes internally. As a wholesaler, we were always wholly focused on selling products but now we are increasingly thinking about installation activities and consultancy services. In fact, that is our ambition within the sustainability sector. We believe in a shift to 100% electricity and everything that goes along with delivering it and, in that respect, we
want to be ahead of our competitors. We are building up expertise through recruitment and staff training so we have the right people, with the right knowledge.

Can you explain how Rexel has responded to energy transition, to help achieve a ‘clean’ world?

" As more and more new technology becomes available, our clients are increasingly looking
for a partner to consult with "

ML: Rexel Group is an electrotechnical wholesaler. We have a history of mergers and acquisitions and operate multiple brands worldwide. We are mostly active in Europe and the USA but also have a presence in Asia Pacific. We offer goods and services to many markets but the largest part of our revenue, 60-70%, comes from the residential construction & installation industry. We offer approximately 400,000 different products including cable, lighting, industrial components, installation material and sustainability solutions. A significant proportion of our revenue comes from sales of EV charging stations and solar PV, for which we lead the market in the Netherlands. 

Products are available from our central distribution centre or one of twenty local branches, with over 50,000 products available by next day delivery.

As the Commercial Director, I am responsible for leading multiple departments within the Netherlands including three regional sales and key account teams, marketing communications and e-commerce.

RL: I have been responsible for business development across the Netherlands since setting the department up several years ago. Much of work is related to market research to spot growth opportunities. The EV/ e-mobility market is a great example of that.

Can you introduce Rexel and describe your roles?

Rexel developed out of French specialist electrical supply company, Compagnie de Distribution de Matériel Électrique which was founded in 1967. Today the Rexel Group is a global organisation, operational in 22 countries and with annual revenues of almost 14 billion euros.

Serving residential, commercial and industrial markets worldwide, it wholesales electrical products and solutions which help customers improve the comfort, security and energy performance of installations, infrastructure and buildings. 

We spoke to Rexel B.V. Commercial Director, Mathijs Leffers, and Business Development Manager, Raimond Looye, about the impact of energy transition on their business.

An interview with Mathijs Leffers, Commercial Director (left) & Raimond Looye (right), Business Development Manager at Rexel