Royal Cosun, an agri-food business with 3,900 employees (fte) and an annual group turnover of around € 2 billion is emphatically putting riskonet’s motto ‘mastering the unexpected’ into practice. riskonet is working closely with the organisation on a contemporary risk management concept. “instead of passively waiting on insurers’ requirements, we are now proactively dealing with risks, measures and investments.”

Royal Cosun is an agro-industrial group made up of companies including Aviko, Duynie, Sensus, Suiker Unie, SVZ and Cosun Biobased Products, that is firmly rooted in the primary sector.

Jeroen Helders (Group Treasurer & Insurance Risk Manager) wants to introduce a modern perspective on risks into the company. “This is not merely a reactive perspective, based on the requirement and need for insurance cover, but an proactive perspective based on insights into our situation and a solid risk and safety policy.”

GAAS rapports

The creation of so-called GAAS (Gap Assessment Asset Safety) reports forms part of the professionalisation of the risk and safety policy. “In short, this is a baseline measurement on the situation within the organisation. Where do we meet the requirements, where are the gaps and where should we do research and perhaps put additional measures in place?” The GAAS devised by Ron de Bruijn, Gerrit Vink and others at Riskonet in close consultation with Helders involves the safety of employees and third parties, compliance with legislation and regulations, the continuity of the company and the insurability of the risks within the organisation.

Risks and measures

The risk policy gives considerable attention to safety measures and a safety mentality among employees. “These are based on the guidance notes that we have drawn up with Riskonet. These concise documents identify ideal safety situations, but also risks and measures. In practical terms, what are the requirements that compartmentalisation of a production area should meet and how do we guarantee these in practice? This leads to prudent discussions and raises awareness. It also means the measures are well supported by staff and management. That is much more powerful that imposing top-down measures.”

A mature perspective on risk management

According to Jeroen Helders, Royal Cosun is purposely working on the development of a mature perspective on risk management. “The importance of this was highlighted by a devastating industrial fire at Aviko in Steenderen with €6.5 million of damage. It accelerated the development of the risk management concept and the GAAS exercise, starting with Aviko which at the time was the weakest link. For instance, at Aviko this even led to us to suspend certain lines for a period of time to improve the safety situation for staff and continuity.”

Company is insurable again

“By specifically focusing our analyses and actions on Aviko, we have not only made the company insurable again. We have also ensured that the premiums only increased very slightly. Furthermore, we have been able to reduce the fee to the agent by using a third party. The insurer said in all honesty that the sound GAAS reports that we presented played a role in this. For the first time, the insurer was able to talk to us using the input from the GAAS and discuss the value of solutions. We had already done the preliminary work for the insurer. That proved to be extremely valuable.”

Aviko’s management has since fully embraced the approach and we are also preparing GAAS reports for the other companies in the Royal Cosun group. “These reports are compulsory for all of our company sites. The reports are widely supported, as the management has seen how they contribute to a sound and prudent risk policy.”

Professional and honest views

Working with Riskonet provides Royal Cosun the certainty of a professional and honest view of risks and safety, said Helders. “They are both a professional expert and a devil’s advocate, that also comes up with good ideas. They act as a sparring partner, a challenger and a driver that maintains the pace of the process. I value their honest, and at times unvarnished views. I also value their constructive cooperation, where sometimes flexibility is important. I anticipate that we will remain in regular contact following the roll-out of the risk management concept at all our companies. Rules change, situations in companies change, and so does the risk scenario. This means that a sound policy needs maintenance. We could make good use of coaching from Riskonet for this.”

Frontrunner with this approach

Helders realises that Royal Cosun could call itself a frontrunner in the Netherlands with this approach to risk management. “We are putting something in place which the companies in our group will be able to further build on. Insurers respond well to it. We have become more proactive and no longer wait on their requirements. Furthermore, we are extremely open. We share the GAAS reports with insurers and these reports form the basis for good discussions. This creates support with the management of our companies to take measures for investing in improvements. We no longer do this on an ad-hoc basis as in the past, but rather in a structured manner.”