Roularta Media Group NV



If you were Belgium's largest media company with over 500 million euros in revenues and 3,000 employees where would you be headquartered—in Brussels or Antwerp? In Roularta Media Group's case the answer is neither. Try Roeselare, a nice quiet town of maybe 40,000 inhabitants in the northwest part of Belgium 20 miles from the French border.

Headquarters for Roularta lies on a main road heading to the outskirts of town. The picture accompanying this story shows the front of the building but it's actually a very large site thanks to the big printing facility connected in the back.

I check-in at the reception desk and explain mailing a letter of introduction a month earlier to CEO Rik De Nolf. From the outside the building looks like it was built in the 1950's and the decor in the lobby doesn't change that assessment. Scanning the room I count four red leather chairs, five blue cloth chairs, three plants (real), a television, over 50 magazines spread across a coffee table, newspapers displayed on a newspaper rack and, a "no smoking"sign. Roularta publishes a slew of magazines not just for the Belgium market but for eight other countries. Besides having interests in various television stations Roularta also owns a string of newspapers mostly in this part of Belgium (West Flanders area).

It's the middle of summer and there's pretty much a skeleton staff of employees working. A man, who's probably about 60 years old and doesn't identify himself, comes to the lobby and from his manner I can tell he's been corralled into talking to me and he's not happy about it. I follow this gruff guy, who's English is limited, to his desk. He's a reporter and just dropped by the office for some papers when he was told to meet with me. I explain my quirky odyssey visiting companies and he couldn't have cared less. I start asking my questions and it turns frustrating because he either doesn't understand the questions or doesn't know the answers. I finally suggest we go back to the lobby and I'll find someone else to meet with.

Sidebar:
Two weeks earlier in Brussels I had write-ups in two of Belgium's largest newspapers and since then several magazines, a television station and several other newspapers were trying to contact me for stories. Since leaving Antwerp I've been hard to track down as I move to a different city/town almost every day. So, it was pretty funny thinking about all the other media trying to track me down and here I am sitting across from a reporter who couldn't have been less interested.

 

Returning back to the lobby, I wait while the receptionist makes several calls. In a few minutes I'm meeting with Cisca Baert, CEO Rik De Nolf's assistant. The accommodating Baert answers questions and walks me around the place.

Employee parking is free and plentiful, conference rooms are named after famous people from this area of Belgium and smoking isn't allowed in the workplace. Hot soup and cold sandwiches are served in the company cafeteria, executives lunch in an executive dining room located in an on-site guesthouse and those bicycling to work enjoy covered parking for their bikes. It's a 10-minute drive to the nearest freeway, a 10-minute walk to downtown Roeselare and a 75-minute drive to Brussels airport. Any employee perks? A "good" discount on magazines published by Roularta.

CEO De Nolf, who's father Willy De Nolf (1917-1981) founded Roularta in 1954, occupies a large top floor corner office. I note the computer, flowers (fake), piles of magazines and a picture of the king of Belgium–though it's not the current king. What's the view out his window? Houses and tall trees across the road.

The boardroom features an oval-shaped table seating 14 and a long book shelve loaded with books lines a wall.

Company website: www.roularta.be