Thirty years of Action and nearly thirty years of Vespo

“We’re not a supplier; we’re partners, and I’m really proud of that.” We talked to Ed Veelenturf, whose company Vespo has supplied Action with ‘everything you could possibly find in a linen cupboard’ from day one.

How did the collaboration come about, and which product is flying off the shelves?

We thought we’d ask Veelenturf and, to give you a hint, it’s towels. “I sometimes think, will people love them?”

I assume the volume you supply has changed a bit over the last thirty years?
“Yes, you could say that! We only supplied to two or three stores back then. I can remember going to take a look there for myself, not knowing that it would become the giant it is today.”

Indeed, from two stores back then to more than 2,100 stores today. That’s almost unthinkable.

“What Rob Wagemaker achieved in those days was incredibly clever. He had such good business sense, and avoided any type of hassle. The price and product came before everything else. That’s still apparent at Action today.”

Is it? It’s an Action characteristic?
“Absolutely. It is – I think, because I come from the south – the West Frisian mentality. People are so down to earth and straightforward. A man’s word is his bond. And that’s in the company’s DNA – it was then, and still is now. That hasn’t changed, and that suits us down to the ground. Perhaps we’re slightly less down to earth, but we’re just as frank and what you see is what you get. That makes us more than just suppliers. We’re partners.”

And the collaboration hasn’t changed over the last thirty years?
“No. In football terms, Action always plays in the Champions League, and I’m really proud that we’ve been able to play at the same level for all those years.”

What are you most proud of?
Our Capetown towel line is our best-known product. We always keep supplying those. They’re never out of stock. We’ve also got a whole floor in our factories dedicated to manufacturing products for Action.”


Meanwhile, you supply all countries in which Action operates. Is there any difference in the range in different countries?

“Yes, there is: every country has its own pillowcase size! In the Netherlands they’re 60 x 70cm, while in Germany pillowcases are larger at 80 x 40cm. Oh, and the colour red isn’t very popular in the Netherlands, but in France they love it. So we make different collections for each country.”

And is there a product that’s only available in a particular country?
“Yes, the wash mitt. That’s only available in the Netherlands. For everyone else’s benefit, that’s a small towel you put your hand in, and then use it to wash yourself. When I explain it like that, it sounds crazy – but Dutch people can’t live without them!”

 Have your products changed over the last thirty years?
“The sizes of the towels have grown alongside humans. The towels are now several sizes bigger than before. And of course, products have changed when it comes to sustainability – every company is focusing on that now. We’re trying to lead the way. That’s why we have a towel containing 70% cut-offs, and I have a sample that’s a 100% recycled towel. So sustainable products are certainly coming.”

Are consumers ready for that?
“I think what consumers are willing to pay for a sustainable product is a little different in each country. In some countries, people often look at the price first and in other countries they look at the quality first. But there’s no doubt that we have more sustainable products coming.”