With its eye on international expansion - and being compliant in all its operations - Varo turned to PwC for help.
When current CEO Jeroen Nys bought the shares of his family’s business in 1997, the now worldwide distributor of do-it-yourself tools and materials, had just revamped its business model to expand from simply a distributor of other brands to launching its own house brands and private labels. All with the intention of growing outside of the Belgian market, a move that Jeroen Nys says "not only opened the door to international business, but was our only means of survival."
Going global means understanding and dealing with tax requirements, among others, in other countries, something that Varo’s local accounting firm didn’t have the resources to manage. It also meant evolving the company structure to take into account the transfer pricing needs of an international concern.
"There are things that as a national player don’t seem to be so important, but when you operate in other countries and across borders, they become a crucial part of doing business, especially in today’s tax environment that calls for greater transparency," Jeroen Nys explains. That’s why he reached out to a professional services firm with the expertise and resources to help.
Having looked at market players who had the necessary capabilities and capacity, Jeroen Nys recalls that he contacted a number of firms.
As to why he opted to partner with PwC he says honestly, "I liked the reply the most. I felt there would be a good click and in business it’s personal relationships that matter the most. Especially with a family business such as ours where personal and professional finances are intertwined."
And he wasn’t wrong. "I talk very openly - as I need to be able to - with my contacts at PwC about not just Varo, but my private planning and ambitions too. I trust them implicitly and feel that they very much share the same values, which makes for a very strong and beneficial personal relationship," Jeroen Nys says.
"Whatever I ask, I always get a reply. It's results that count, that's why PwC really is value for money."
PwC’s international footprint is also of great benefit to Varo. With not many subsidiaries and working with local distributors, Varo handles all its business from Belgium. When questions arise, Jeroen Nys simply reaches out to his PwC Belgium contact who finds the solutions from the relevant part of the PwC network.
"It means we don’t have to explain our story over and over as they’re very aware of it and know what we’re looking for," Jeroen Nys notes. And when introduced to and dealing with other regional PwC experts outside Belgium, he very much appreciates that "not only have they been briefed on my situation and needs, but they treat me in the same respectful way. That’s where you see how having the same values across the globe really pays off."
Given the small size of the Belgian market and now with a presence in neighbouring France and the Netherlands, as well as in Spain, Varo has aspirations to continue its international expansion further afield.
"Every country has different competitors for our industry, although there’s not so much in Belgium, and is logistically very differently organised, which can make entry a challenge. Especially as we prefer not to acquire entities, but either to set up a joint concern with an existing distributor or expand on our own. As such, PwC’s ideally placed to help us fulfill our ambitions,," Jeroen Nys says.