The Japanese company Fujifilm has existed for over 80 years and boasts a very rich history. The company is represented globally on every continent and has branches in more than a hundred countries. And yet it was only in 1982 that Fujifilm opened its first production plant in Europe. Brabant was chosen by Fujifilm as a core location and today has one of the the company’s largest manufacturing divisions located in Tilburg. The Japanese company continues to make history in Tilburg with a fixed focus on a future where innovation and sustainability are key.

Today, Fujifilm Manufacturing Europe employs around 1000 people in Tilburg, making it one of the largest industrial employers in the central Brabant region. The division manufactures photographic materials and offset plates for the European, Middle Eastern and African markets. Tilburg also produces gas separation membranes. Aside from manufacturing, Tilburg also houses major parts of the European head office, with IT, Acquisitions, Logistics and Finance all constituting parts of the corporate divisions that employ more than 100 people.

As a result of the growth in digital photography, production of analogue photographic film ceased in Tilburg in 2005 and since then the company has undergone a true revolution. “From traditional production to innovation,” is how Peter Struik, President of Fujifilm Manufacturing Europe, explains it.

“Fujifilm is located in a city and province that focuses on doing things. That is evident from the speed with which the required permits are granted, amongst other things.” Peter Struijk - FUJIFILM

“Our Tilburg Research Laboratory has been transformed from a developer of film and photographic paper into an R&D organization for the development of new products,” says Struik. “And we are also accessing new markets, such as the medical industry and sectors that require sustainable and environmentally friendly products. Recently, we opened our newest production line for membranes. This product is developed here in Tilburg and the production is based on our nanotechnology. Membranes are used in CO2 filters and water-purification installations, amongst many other applications. Thanks to these innovations, Fujifilm in Tilburg has become incredibly important within the global value chain,” he adds. 

The innovative nature and sustainable ambitions of Fujifilm in Tilburg are clearly evident throughout its operations. “They are not just words, but our core values,” Struik explains. “We initially settled on Tilburg because of the clear water and air you find here. Sustainability is also important for the healthy future of Fujifilm. Therefore, five wind turbines have been installed on the production site, and the production processes include a variety of heat and gas extraction technologies. The company also worked on a joint water purification installation on the Fujifilm site, in partnership with neighboring companies and the regional water authority.”

When Fujifilm first went in search of a strategic location for its European facilities, the UK, France, Germany, Ireland and Belgium were considered.  The company however, chose to locate in the Netherlands instead. The reason why the company eventually decided on Brabant was, aside from the clean climate, due to the favorable labor market. 

Today Peter Struik has a number of other positive factors to add. “We cooperate very well with Dutch universities,” he says, “here in Brabant the High Tech Campus is almost around the corner.”

Struik also praises the level of cooperation Fujifilm enjoys with the Tilburg municipality, the province of Brabant and the Brabant Development Agency. “Fujifilm is located in a city and province that focuses on doing things. That is evident from the speed with which the required permits are granted, amongst other things,” he explains.

Fujifilm Manufacturing Europe has established deep roots in the local and regional area. The synergy between the Japanese and the Dutch has attained a unique dimension in Tilburg and Brabant. Fujifilm has already made history here, and will certainly add further enthralling episodes to its story in the future.

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