[interview] Food award winner 2020 Philip Christiaans from Brownies & downieS

Philip Christiaans is 26 years old and has now been with Brownies & downieS for almost six years. Ever walked into the office of founder and co-owner Tijs Swinkels (photo above, left) and never left. He is now active as a Formula Manager, in which he is mainly concerned with the growth of Brownies & downieS. ‘We opened an average of 8 locations a year pre-corona, so that’s a great part of my job. And in addition, we are always in talks with entrepreneurs and stakeholders to see what strategic growth we can achieve Brownies & downieS. ‘

Can you tell us more about Brownies & DownieS?
Christiaans: ‘Brownies & downieS was founded in 2010 as a commercial company where people with a disability or distance from the labor market work in various positions. This immediately became very popular in Veghel and in 2012 we started a franchise and immediately grew enormously to 15 branches. Ultimately, the transition from soft-franchise to a hard-franchise model has gone through in recent years and huge steps have been taken in the field of professionalization. We currently have 54 branches, 53 of which are run by franchisees. We recently opened our first location at the Technical University of Eindhoven. It is really cool to see how we are now further expanding the Brownies & downieS brand together with our franchisees on a daily basis. ‘

You won the Foodservice Award 2020, can you explain why you were declared the winner of this consumer election?

‘For the entire Brownies & downieS organization it was actually a reward for the course we set out a few years ago. Obviously, a transition from soft franchise to hard franchise cannot take place without the support of our entrepreneurs and making clear choices. In the end, the guests gave us a fantastic rating in the context of the Foodservice Award. I am most proud of the 9.04 rating we received for the hospitality at Brownies & downieS. This is of course a huge compliment to the special employees who develop themselves on a daily basis and who each work in their own way within the company. The average figures we received were really high, we also immediately started working on the points for improvement that we could deduce from this. ‘

Happy with? Looking back now, what effect did this award have on you?
‘Super happy with it! In 2019 Yoghurt Barn won the Foodservice Award and I remember that I congratulated Wouter Staal at the time and jokingly said that we would be the successor in 2020. In the end, you are very proud of the list of names that Brownies & downieS are on. On the other hand, it also gives a mixed feeling, because we have only partly been able to enjoy this recognition through the entire corona situation. We had various marketing plans ready in response to winning this award, these plans, however, went into the trash in mid-March of course. But in the first months of 2020 we noticed that the Foodservice Award is a quality mark and that we have also been able to experience good growth in terms of brand awareness. ‘

I understood that B&D is now also developing into a producer. Can you tell us something about how things are going now?
‘I don’t expect to become a producer in the short term, but there are various plans ready for the future. For example, we recently entered into a partnership with Appel Catering regarding catering at educational locations. And we are in talks with various parties to investigate whether the Brownies & downieS concept can also be successful in other markets. ‘

And what are your plans for the future? Where do you want to be in three years?
‘The most important thing is that we maintain the current family culture within the organization, which is quite special for a franchise formula. We also see space for approximately 70 to 75 locations of Brownies & downieS in the Netherlands. We strongly believe that the concept can also be successful in other markets, as we are already seeing at the TU in Eindhoven. But also think of locations in the leisure sector, or shop-in-shop at popular retailers. We offer culinary quality in combination with a unique hospitality experience, because we create social impact together with our special employees. I look forward to increasing this social impact together with the entire organization in the coming years and to discover whether Brownies & downieS can spread its wings even more. ‘

FOODAWARD 2021: How can you submit a case and where?
You can register for the election via We then make promotional material available. More info at Q&A, Printerweg 22, 3821 AD Amersfoort and at:

* Read the interview with project manager Gerwin Souman about the Food Award here.

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