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Familie Bertrums
our history
The story behind our family business

The history of this family business dates back more than 100 years, to the end of the 19th century. Current owner Floris Bertrums’ great-grandfather started selling cotton and wool fabrics door-to-door from a freight bicycle in rural areas. Most of his customers were women, as the mistress of the house used to personally make most of the household’s clothing at the time.

A passion for textiles for generations

Bertrums is a well-known surname in ’s-Hertogenbosch and has strong links to the textile trade. Based on references found in old documents, it seems likely that earlier generations also traded in textiles. The textile industry was present in most areas of the Dutch province of North Brabant from the Middle Ages.

The industry grew in the 18th century as small-scale wholesalers or ‘fabrikeurs’ began to appear. These individuals supplied raw materials and semi-finished products to home workers and then collected the fully or partially completed products again, either to have them finished elsewhere or to sell them at market. The wholesale trade as we know it today adopted this role when the textile industry moved to mass production.

EV B&B Fabrics bedijf 186

1940 - 1950


After the war, textiles were mainly traded at the weekly markets in the region. Grandfather Jan Bertrums started up the family's first wholesale activities in the textile trade. He sold fabrics for clothing and household textiles to merchants in the region. When his son Martin (Floris' father) reached the age of 14, he left school to work in his father's company. That meant helping out at the market in the mornings and working in the wholesale business in the afternoons. In addition, he attended a three-year night school course to learn the basics of running a business. Seven out of the total of ten children born into the family went on to work in the textile sector in later years. So Martin learned the trade and developed a passion for textiles from a very young age.

B&B Fabrics Spring Summer 12

1967 - 1970


Martin was stationed in Germany during his military service. He was already an entrepreneur through and through, which sometimes led to conflicts with the army's philosophy of ‘order and discipline’. After his military service, Martin Bertrums specialised in buying up unsold and unwanted stocks. By this time, he had outgrown his father's business. His ideas for expanding the business were not always shared by his father. So, without any money of his own, he started his own business called Textielgroothandel Martin Bertrums BV.

At the time, the trade was being revolutionised by the introduction of synthetic fabrics such as Trevira 2000. These fabrics were easy to wash and did not require ironing. Martin used to drive his Volkswagen van to German producers to purchase these revolutionary fabrics. He subsequently sold the fabrics to wholesalers and retailers in the Netherlands. His motto was always to trade honestly and pay promptly: “Trade fairly and you automatically gain a good reputation. And don't buy anything if you don't have the money; that's the advice I gave my sons in later years”, says Martin.

Floris Bertrums

1991 - 2001

Handing over the baton

Floris has held the position of Managing Director of B&B Fabrics for more than 15 years. Floris spent his secondary school years at Zwijsencollege in Veghel. Even though he grew up in a family business with a rich history in textiles, it was by no means self-evident that he would work in his parents' company. However he enrolled for a textile course in Enschede and subsequently gained practical experience working as a trainee at a textile factory in Rochdale, England, which is world famous in the textile sector.

When he came home again, his father had a clear message for Floris. He would be given a year to prove his worth to the company. Martin Bertrums' views were clear: “I won't allow anybody to ruin our company, let alone my own son”. But after just a few months, he knew that everything would work out. Floris quickly grew in his role as an entrepreneur and contributed new ideas which he subsequently implemented successfully.

Martin recognised Floris' talents and made him responsible for the company's finances after a while, which effectively put him in control of the entire business. Floris is grateful for the opportunity he has been given. After a period as a self-employed agent, his brother Titus decided to work full-time in sales at B&B Fabrics. As Sales Manager, Titus plays a key role in developing the collection and he is a familiar face for many customers at exhibitions and during visits.

Floris Bertrums

2001 - now

The most beautiful deco fabrics

The company, which employs approximately twenty people and sells through twenty agents, has grown into a contemporary textile converter that offers interior fabrics and decorative fabrics. The collections are designed in-house in the company's design studio and then produced by partners in the sector. On balance, B&B Fabrics has benefited from the economic downturn in recent years. Despite the general trend, the company has emerged stronger than ever. B&B Fabrics has outperformed many competitors by keeping stocks high and investing in development and continuity. The pricing policy adopted by B&B Fabrics focuses on the mid-range: it is neither the most expensive, nor the cheapest. The results clearly show that customers feel dependability and therefore continuity to be more important.

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