'NEW' OWNERS, BUT SAME VISION AT BBIG
Over twenty years ago, Rob Bresser founded the children's eyewear brand BBIG because of the growing need for beautiful, stylish eyewear for children. Since then, the needs in
the market have only increased, and Rob's passion for optics and his business has also remained undiminished. Still, he has decided to hand over the baton. "At some point it has been nice and that moment has now arrived," Rob smiles. In Maarten Rengers and his partner Kirsten Rengers - Boschman he sees the ideal successors for his company, which according to him, as well as Maarten and Kirsten, still has growth potential.
Since its founding, BBIG's growth has accelerated. Someone who has witnessed this development closely over the past thirteen years is Maarten. "I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my career and then came into the world of optics by chance through BBIG. By now we can safely conclude that it was the right decision to take this step." When asked what appealed to him so much in the industry, and specifically in BBIG, he replied, "In the first year I worked mainly in the inside sales department, but in time I started attending more and more events and trade fairs, where I kept coming into contact with our customers. That appealed to me so much that I eventually started working in the field. Working together with the customer to see what their needs are and discussing how our collections can meet them, that's what I find fantastic. We build long-term relationships BBIG. However, she is absolutely no stranger to the industry. "I come from a real optics family. My parents, Harry and Agnes, ran an optical store for forty years, which my brother Wouter - Jan recently took over. I followed a completely different study but I still ended up in the eyewear world. It's in my blood," Kirsten winks. "First as a representative for Bloomdale and then at Eyewearstudio with the Yellows Plus brand." Once when Rob, Maarten and Kirsten were having dinner at their regular eatery in Paris, it came up that Rob was looking to expand his team. Kirsten: "I jokingly said, 'I'm quite willing to think about it,provided Maarten and I can take over at some point'. Later we had a serious talk about it and it turned out there was genuine interest from Rob as well. In February I joined the company and now the takeover is almost complete. So it all went a little faster than I thought."
Rob adds: "I'm at an age where you start thinking about what you want to do with your business. I have no successor, so when it appeared that Maarten and Kirsten were interested in a takeover, I was absolutely open to it. Maarten knows BBIG through and through and Kirsten has an enormous amount of experience within the industry. I am therefore transferring the company to them with confidence." When asked how the takeover will go, Rob replies, "I want to make the takeover process as easy as possible for them. Maarten obviously knows all the ins & outs of BBIG and has been increasingly involved in the general running of the company over the past few months, as has Kirsten. We also designed the past spring collection for BBIG together. Previously I always did that myself, last time we did it together and from now on I will leave it completely to Maarten and Kirsten. Whether this will lead to totally different collections? I think every collection of BBIG will be different than different, because the brand stands for development. We move with the times and have continuously responded to new trends over the past twenty years, and we will continue to do so in the future, but now with new, fresh impulses from Maarten and Kirsten."
That BBIG stands for development and continuously responds to the needs in the market is also demonstrated by the introduction of the AndNowMe brand in 2019. Rob: "We found that teenagers can no longer identify with BBIG's eyewear. They have grown out of their childhood years and are now developing other interests and their own personal tastes. The children's glasses no longer fit them, but the sizes of the adult glasses aren't quite right either. This gave us the idea to develop a new collection that responds perfectly to the wants and needs of this specific target group." Rob wanted to give the collection a rough and tough image and therefore made the link with New York, a rough, classy and urban city. Says Kirsten, "The frames in the current collection are all named after and inspired by different neighborhoods in New York, such as Midtown, Coney Island and Brooklyn.
The right balance
Maarten emphasizes that it is not only important to keep surprising customers with new collections, but also to offer versatility. He explains: "Finding the right balance in a collection is what it's all about. After all, we want to be able to offer something for everyone." When asked where the inspiration for the new collections comes from, Kirsten replies, "We don't just look at the trends in the market, but also listen to our customers. They know what is needed and know their customers better than we do. Therefore, we are absolutely open to their feedback and ideas. We design everything ourselves, so our customers are also close to the fire."
The BAS concept
Because BBIG's collection is extensive and versatile, opticians have many choices. To take full advantage of the versatile assortment, the company has introduced the BAS Concept. Maarten: "To stimulate resale, we wanted to give our customers the opportunity to exchange models and partly because of this, the idea for the BAS Concept was born. The BAS Concept stands for Basic Affordable Stock. Thanks to this concept, the optician always has an up-to-date basic stock of children's glasses available. The optician receives an assortment of 48 BBIG frames of his or her choice, which he or she purchases at a significantly lower price than the regular price. Sold frames we replenish, so there are always 48 pairs of glasses in stock. At any time, the optician can exchange any frame. Moreover, we apply a graduated discount, which means that the purchase price decreases as more is sold."
"THE DEMAND FOR CHILDREN'S EYEWEAR HAS
INCREASING OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS
AND WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO.
MORE AND MORE CHILDREN ARE NEARSIGHTED, THAT
OPTICIANS MUST RESPOND TO THIS AND BBIG
SUPPORTS THEM IN THIS"
The vision remains unchanged
With the BAS Concept, BBIG shows that they think along with the optician
and want to support them where necessary. This vision remains unchanged, even now that Maarten and Kirsten are at the helm. "BBIG has grown in recent years into a reliable partner for independent opticians. That vision will not change now that we are at the helm. We want to enter into long-term cooperation, that has always been the case and will always remain so," Maarten says. According to Kirsten, the collaborations with opticians are based on trust and keeping agreements. "Our stock is always in order and our customer service is ready to take orders, answer questions or solve any problems. We like to think along with our customers. Personal service is the basis for our business, with only a good collection you don't make it anymore."
A new adventure
Maarten and Kirsten are enormously looking forward to embarking on this new adventure together and are confident about the future. "The demand for children's glasses has continued to increase in recent years and will continue to do so. More and more children are nearsighted, opticians have to respond to this and BBIG supports them in this. In addition, with AndNowMe we are following up on the target group that has outgrown children's glasses. In short, we definitely see growth opportunities in the optics market for the future." Rob is also looking forward to his new role within the company and looks back on the past few years with pride. "Whether I'm going to miss it? Of course, I've put a tremendous amount of time, energy and passion into it all these years, but I'm also looking forward to my new,
advisory role. After all, I'm not quite gone yet. Besides, I'm sure Maarten and Kirsten will continue the company successfully, which gives me enormous satisfaction."