There had been rumours that Beate Uhse might sell Scala Agenturen B.V. but when the company actually parted ways with their wholesale division, it still came as a surprise to many industry members, and they were curious to find out who picked up the reigns of the long-standing Dutch company. That question has been answered in the meantime: Trudy Pijnacker and Walter Kroes are the new heads of SCALA, and in our EAN interview, they tell us more about their reasons for acquiring the wholesaler, about their plans, and about their expectations.
When was the decision made to acquire wholesaler Scala Agenturen B.V. from Beate Uhse group?
Trudy Pijnacker & Walter Kroes: Acquiring Scala Agenturen B.V. and continuing its wholesale activities under the new name SCALA was a decision that came to us quickly when we were offered the chance to take on this new challenge. We instantly saw the amazing potential, and we were enthusiastic about all the prospects this well-established company – recently voted ‘Best International Distributor’ at the 2017 ETO Awards – offers. We do realise that elevating SCALA to the next level will take time and effort, but we are confident that we’ll be able to implement some exciting changes in the upcoming months that will make SCALA an even bigger, better player in the erotic market, servicing the B2B customers in the best way possible.
You both had already worked for Scala Agenturen B.V. in the past. Did that fact influence your decision in any way?
Most definitely! Our past experiences with the company mean that we are both very aware of the fantastic opportunities and potential SCALA offers, plus it allows us to re-connect with the fantastic, dedicated team to join forces and use our combined knowledge of the industry to ensure success and longevity for the company.
Is there time to be proud and happy about the acquisition, or are you already focusing on the work that needs to be done?
Our current focus is to elevate SCALA to the next level, taking steps that will allow us to improve in key areas, becoming an even better full-service provider to all B2B customers. Our dedicated team will be moving to a new, strategic office and warehouse location that matches our vision for the company, and we aim to make this transition go as smoothly and efficiently as possible. So instead of focussing on being happy and proud with the acquisition, we’d rather look back in a few months and be happy and proud with the successful transition!
“Our current focus is to elevate SCALA to the next level, taking steps that will allow us to improve in key areas, becoming an even better full-service provider to all B2B customers.”
Throughout the past years, the general tenor of official Beate Uhse press releases has been that the wholesale activities have put a dent in the company’s overall performance. What makes you optimistic that you will have more success with Scala Agenturen B.V.?
If, as a company or brand, you are part of a ‘bigger picture’ – in our case the Beate Uhse group – there are many business policies that influence your daily decisions, which mean you can’t suddenly take a different direction or implement changes without lengthy approval from a board or shareholders. This robs you of the ability to act quickly and take opportunities, something essential in our industry. This is where SCALA is going to improve massively in the coming months: We want to be agile, quick to adapt to the market, and even quicker to sense opportunities and act on them, making us a definite leader in the adult trade – not just a follower.
I am sure there are many things that need to be checked and/or changed. Where will you begin?
In the coming period, we will start with the fundamentals of SCALA: We will be improving the online infrastructure, stock availability, and product development. The assortment of SCALA will focus mainly on toys, lingerie, and drugstore products, with the decision made to remove the film and DVD product categories from our assortment for strategic reasons. SCALA will continue its partnerships with your favourite suppliers and remains a one-stop-shop destination. As stated earlier, our business will also move to a new office and warehouse location in November, plus we are working on bringing you a new and improved website; offering an online portal that caters exactly to the needs of our B2B customers.
You already released a press release outlining your strategy: SCALA will focus entirely on b2b business with trade and retailers. So, there will be no other activities outside your core business?
No, our focus will be fully and solely on our B2B activities: putting our valued customers and their B2B needs first. All the changes we are making at SCALA are purely intended to improve our service levels, assortment, and availability for erotic retailers, ensuring we meet their demands and service them in the best way possible.
“All the changes we are making at SCALA are purely intended to improve our service levels, assortment, and availability for erotic retailers, ensuring we meet their demands and service them in the best way possible.”
As far as the product range is concerned, you announced you will rely on the usual product categories. The only exception will be DVDs, right?
Yes, that is correct. Our main assortment will be targeted at toys, drugstore products, and lingerie, with the film/DVD category removed due to internal strategic reasons.
SCALA has also outlined plans to invest in the online infrastructure. What exactly is going to happen on that front?
We are developing a new website that will become the ultimate online gateway for everything SCALA offers. We see a lot of potential in improving our online presence and aim to launch this new website once our move to the new office and warehouse location is finalised. The new website will include a strong, functional, and easy to navigate B2B web shop with excellent product information, an online ordering service, scanning, XML feeds, and much more. We’ve developed it solely with our B2B customers in mind: creating an online interface that will cater exactly to what they need. If you’re curious about the look and feel of the new SCALA website, make sure to visit our SCALA Fair on the 3rd and 4th of September, where we offer you exclusive ‘sneak preview’ of the upcoming site.
Another announcement has to do with product availability and product development. What steps are you going to take in that area?
We have invested heavily in product availability: ordering abundantly at our valued suppliers. We aim to make all our top-selling products and brands fully available, meaning your favourite items will never be out of stock again! Product development is also something we want to improve, after all, SCALA has proven very strong in releasing in-house brands in the past. Though SCALA offers a very extensive assortment, we’ve noticed certain market demands that have not been met by current collections. That offers us a fantastic opportunity to develop our own, in-house products to fill these gaps and give customers something unique, exciting, and most of all: sellable. The fact that SCALA is now its own company – no longer part of a group – means we can act much more quickly on trends and demands, which is a very promising position to be in when combined with a strong, experienced in-house product development team.
These things require a warehouse and logistics operations. How far along are your plans in that regard? And does that mean that you will be giving up the location in Almere in the long run?
We are going full-speed ahead on the move to a new warehouse, logistics centre, and office, which is currently being build and adapted to meet our requirements. The new SCALA base will be in Wijchen, the Netherlands. We aim to transition our business activities and our dedicated team to our new location in early to mid-November – meaning this will also mark the end of our presence in Almere.
How long will this transformation process take?
We aim to be ‘fully reloaded’ as SCALA at our new location in Wijchen sometime in November, so the whole process is going to be quick, intensive, and hopefully very efficient!
Scala Agenturen B.V. was one of the leaders in the adult market for many years, and it ranks among the big, well-established names in our industry – what will remain of that reputation when all is said and done? How will all of this affect the company’s legacy? And how much of it will survive, except from just the name?
SCALA has been around for more than 45 years, and during that time, it has undergone some big changes in direction, management and ownership, but it hasalways managed to survive and thrive. Our vision for the company is to return to its core activities that made it stand-out as the go-to name in erotic wholesaling: focusing fully on the B2B customers’ needs. This means having the best brands, best availability, biggest suppliers, most exciting in-house collections, fantastic service from a dedicated team, and most of all: the best interest of the B2B customer at heart. We won’t change the company’s legacy, we will honor it and put our own, unique spin on it, allowing SCALA to thrive for many years to come and remain a company everybody can truly be proud of!
“Our vision for the company is to return to its core activities that made it stand-out as the go-to name in erotic wholesaling.”
The wholesale segment of the adult market has changed quite drastically in recent years: The traditional supply chain is breaking apart, competition is getting fiercer and fiercer … Does the current situation dampen your expectations for success in the wholesale segment?
No, it doesn’t dampen our expectations, it makes us more determined to make SCALA a big and bold success! Yes, the market has changed compared to ten years ago, but that also means there are many new, amazing opportunities to take advantage of. SCALA is going be a strong player on the erotic market: putting the needs of the B2B customers first and tackling things head-on. We wouldn’t have taken on the challenge of elevating SCALA to the next level if we didn’t have the guts to make big and bold decisions. We are confident that we are going to be a breath of fresh air in the industry – a breath that can blow our competition away – so we’d rather focus on optimising our potential instead of worrying what others are doing. Bring it on!
How do you envision the future of the adult wholesale segment in general?
There will always be a market for adult wholesaling, though the most important thing is to realise the market is constantly evolving – meaning you must evolve with it. Just like every other market, it’s all about anticipating and matching customer (both retailers and the end-users) desires. We believe that, in order to be successful in this ever-changing segment, you have to be able to not just follow, but also to create and anticipate trends, to listen to your customers, and to have a dedicated team that quickly springs to action whenever a customer needs help, assistance, or excellent service: Which is exactly why we are making the current changes at SCALA. We are confident our company and experienced team will lead SCALA into a successful and prosperous future – whatever challenges our industry may face – so we hope you’ll join us for this new, exciting new chapter in the legacy of SCALA.