Supplier Focus: Neptunus
by Annie Byrne
Neptunus has come a long way from a chest washed up on a Dutch beach in 1937. Arguably its biggest achievements were its high-profile Olympic assignments at London 2012.
The firm’s official supplier status saw Neptunus provide a range of facilities across the Olympic Park in east London, including the first-ever on-site Olympic corporate hospitality village where 3,000 people were entertained each day in a state-of-the-art structure.
Away from Olympic Park, Neptunus also constructed a basketball training centre for athletes attending the Olympic and Paralympic Games and Heineken House, a media centre and party facility for Dutch fans and sponsors, at Alexandra Palace in north London.
In addition, Neptunus also created a rooftop athletes’ training facility at the Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford for the Dutch Olympic Committee.
The firm offers support to major events such as Farnborough International Air Show, RHS Chelsea Flower Show and the Goodwood Festival of Speed, as well as product launches and parties.
But the company had humble beginnings following a day at the seaside. The business was launched back in 1937 when Anton Eilers found a chest washed up on a beach. Inside was an army tent, which became the inspiration for the start of his business. The trident embossed on the chest inspired the name Neptunus.
Eilers erected the tent for a party. Friends subsequently asked if they could hire it from him, and Neptunus the company was born. Today, the third generation of the family is at the helm and the company now operates from Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Poland, Austria and the United Kingdom.
Neptunus here in the UK is a wholly owned subsidiary of Neptunus BV in The Netherlands. It was one of the first Dutch companies to expand into the UK events industry when it began trading here in 1987.
However, in 1996 the family decided to concentrate on developing its European business and left the Neptunus UK brand to be marketed through a partnership with another UK temporary structure supplier.
It was only in 2009 that Neptunus decided to begin a solo operation in the UK with April Trasler appointed MD to spearhead the new initiative.
“We relaunched in January 2009 at the Event Show and were working out of serviced offices,” said Trasler. “It was a difficult time restarting during the recession and people thought we were mad to attempt it. From the outset we were looking to buy land to put down a permanent base here, and despite the recession, we saw steady growth in our event industry contracts.
“We were able to build significant long-term relationships with clients such as arts, antiques and design fair Masterpiece, international arts exhibition Frieze, the, the RHS Flower Shows and the Harrogate Flower Show.
“We have really started from scratch in the UK and have made quite remarkable progress in just five years. However, winning official supplier status at London 2012 and being involved in so many major Olympic projects has really been the key to enabling us to swiftly expand our operations even further and to greatly enhance our reputation.”
In autumn 2012, Neptunus relocated to new premises in Swan Valley, Northamptonshire.
The firm has a team of more than 20 creative designers and engineers. “The people responsible for designing our products are people who actually work on our projects so they have an intimate understanding of the onsite challenges,” said Trasler. “Consequently they are aware of the need to be able to build on virtually any terrain, the need for total flexibility of our structures and ease with which our equipment must be transported, stored and maintained.”
Neptunus’ products had been designed and manufactured in The Netherlands but in recent years that side of the operation has switched to a dedicated centre in Poland. Now operating in seven countries, Neptunus has a 250-strong workforce with more than 450,000sqm of structures available for rent or sale.
“We were the first company to design a triple-decker structure which has subsequently evolved through the creation of our Evolution range,” Trasler added. “Introduction of the triple-decker was a highly significant development for the events industry.
“Our focus is on quality and durability which means structures we originally developed for the event and exhibition industry assignments can easily be adapted for a multitude of long-term projects.”
Semi-permanent structures have provided accommodation for a range of uses including supermarkets, warehouses and sports halls.
Now Neptunus has embarked on an ambitious project in The Netherlands where their structures will be providing people with new homes. In a bid to meet the demand for more affordable housing designers Neptunus are creating a state-of-the-art apartment block utilising the company’s Flexolution semi-permanent structure. In appearance and quality the Flexolution is hard to distinguish from a permanent building, yet can be dismantled and re-erected at other locations.
The structure is currently being put together at Panningen, in the Dutch province of Limburg where it will form 20 apartments, 16 two-bedroom and four three-bedroom units, in a temporary housing project for the local authorities of Geemeente Peel and Mass and the Wonen Limburg Housing Association.
“The accommodation is ideal for people looking for a short-term home such as ex-students or even people who may have sold their house and need a temporary home before moving into permanent accommodation,” said Dorrie Eilers, director of marketing for Neptunus and grand-daughter of the company’s founder.
It’s a far cry from Anton Eilers’ army tent but technological advancements that were once focused purely on the events industry are now offering cutting-edge solutions for additional space requirements.
This was first published in the May issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne