Smappee makes a perfect fit for the Claes Retail Group’s sustainability philosophy

When your site and building are designed to meet sustainability standards from start to finish, it’s only natural to also seek high-quality green mobility. That’s just one of the reasons why, two years ago, the Claes Retail Group (CRG) invested in Smappee’s EV charging infrastructure. The installation was carried out by Dymotec, who proved a strong partner, handling implementation and service in line with all modern technical standards.

The Claes Retail Group can trace its roots back to 1975, when founder Jean-Baptiste Claes established the first branch of the fashion retail chain bearing his initials (JBC). The family holding now includes Mayerline and CKS alongside JBC, and the Group has become a well-known name in the Belgian fashion realm.

“One of the values firmly anchored in our DNA is sustainability”, says Katrien Vangrunderbeeck (Communications Manager). “Even back when designing our new headquarters, which we’ve occupied since 2013, green innovation was an important consideration. For example, we included triple glazing, rainwater reuse systems, and solar panels. We’ve also put a lot of work into smart energy use. Our lighting infrastructure uses LED fittings throughout, and we have motion sensors ensuring that we never use more electricity than we need.”

Aligning with the right partners

The family business also considers itself an early adopter of e-mobility. “When EU law on this issue came into force, we didn’t hesitate to take action as quickly as possible”, adds Belinda Fernandez Peralta (Fleet Coordinator and Payroll Specialist).

Encon, a consultancy in Bilzen, guided us through the process. As an independent partner, Encon conducted an audit of our fleet and then drew up an advisory report indicating how many charging stations we would need.”

A tender went out to find the right installation contractor, and Dymotec emerged as the winner. “We chose them as specialists in industrial electrical engineering and automation who could provide the full package. We deliberately chose to seek out quality and to work with local partners who can be called in quickly if there is any issue”, explains Belinda.

Dennis Lauwers is a Sales Engineer for Lighting upgrades and EV charging at Dymotec. “Following our passion for electrical engineering and industrial automation, we added e-mobility to our specialisms about three years ago”, he explains. “When we began the search for the perfect supplier of EV infrastructure, we were floundering at first, wading through the range of services and quotes from the main players. However, as soon as we met Smappee, things started to fall into place. We find the strong aluminium casing around the charging posts an important benefit as it protects against wind and weather. Also, Smappee is a Belgian producer and offers the high levels of quality, innovation, and support that we were looking for.”

Visual appeal

CRG’s employees loved the Smappee systems from the start. “Being a company with a focus on fashion and aesthetics, an immediate visual impression is important to us. The attractive, clean-lined design of the Smappee charging posts appealed to us instantly”, says Katrien Vangrunderbeeck.

“What’s more”, adds Emile Bekaert, Sales Manager at Smappee, “we have a lot of values in common with CRG. The casing for our charging posts is made from recyclable aluminium and we work very closely with manufacturing companies who provide supported employment for our products. Just like CRG, at Smappee we believe that it’s important to provide opportunities to people trying to gain a footing in the labor market.”

The charging stations were installed in late 2022. “We were responsible for the full package”, Dennis Lauwers reports. “One important aspect of the job was adapting the electricity infrastructure. This is housed on the other side of the building. To route the supply cables across to the parking area, we drilled horizontal holes.

That way, we’ve avoided inconvenience to the CRG staff as far as possible. We also came up with a highly efficient system for integrating the charging connectors into the footways.

This involved shortening the concrete sockets by 4 cm, to match the width of the bricks. That way, we didn’t have to break up the surface and at the same time created an effective visual result – supported by the fact that the cables run beneath the sockets.”

The 13 EV Base stations, providing a total of 26 charging points, are available for use by CRG employees, visitors to the site, and people working at adjacent companies in the industrial zone. “External users can charge their vehicles at our site during office hours. Outside office hours, our charging stations are only accessible to our own staff. We supply an average of around 4000 kWh of electricity per month to electric vehicles. We also have an ongoing project to convert our fleet to greener vehicles: out of our 100 company vehicles, we already have 10 fully electric cars and 5 plug-in hybrid cars. And we’ve ordered many more electric cars. For now, the 26 charging points are as much as we need for our fleet, but of course, there’s scope to extend the system in the future”, says Belinda.

“We really appreciate the fact that Smappee is making an active contribution to our social economy”

Belinda Fernandez Peralta, Fleet Coordinator & Payroll Specialist, Claes Retail Group

Smart integration

The charging stations have now been in operation since February 2023. “So far, we’ve had a very positive experience with the Smappee EV Base chargers”, continues Belinda. “The charging points are easy to use, and the software is also highly accessible. The dashboard is great for giving an overall picture of our energy management: we can see exactly how much electricity from our own solar panels contributes to each charging session, and how much comes from the grid.

The ‘whitelist’ gives us a very clear idea of which of our employees are charging for free, and how often they do that. ‘Load balancing’ is another great feature: the system can calculate how much electricity is still available and balances it evenly across the various connectors. An open architecture ensures the software can communicate easily with other back-end systems. And if any problem should arise, we know that Dymotec’s support, backed up with Smappee’s highly rated support team, will be at our side in no time.”

Dennis Lauwers adds: “The design of the Smappee chargers is very convenient for us. The components can be replaced individually, which many other manufacturers don’t offer. Just because something goes wrong with the circuit board doesn’t mean we have to replace the whole charger.”

Following the positive experience with Smappee, CRG has now also had 4 EV Wall chargers installed at its branch in Vilvoorde. “Innovative, Belgian, elegant, and sustainable: it’s the perfect combination”, conclude Katrien Vangrunderbeeck and Belinda Fernandez Peralta.

Customer Claes Retail Group
Country Belgium
Industry Fashion retail


As a family business, Claes Retail Group (CRG) attaches great importance to sustainability. In 2022, it sought a preferably Belgian provider of high-quality charging stations for its own employees, visitors, and those working in the same industrial zone of Houthalen-Helchteren.

The challenge

From a tender process, installer Dymotec from Olen emerged as the best provider. They immediately proposed the Smappee EV Base charging station as the most suitable solution on the market. Dymotec was also responsible for the cabling and managed to route the power cables to the parking via horizontal directional drilling without any inconvenience.

The solution

The 13 double EV Base charging stations have been operational since February 2023. Claes Retail Group appreciates the sleek design and high functionality of the solutions. Additionally, it fully aligns with Smappee’s strong sustainability philosophy. The aluminum housing of the EV Base charging stations is made from recycled sustainable aluminum material. A large part of the manufacturing and assembly is done by local companies offering supported employment opportunities.

The results

  • Aesthetic installation of high-quality chargers
  • Monthly consumption of 4000 kWh for charging sessions
  • Charging stations are open for public charging and accessible to external users during office hours
  • Claes Retail Group is fully prepared for the transition to electric mobility

Why Smappee?

  • Modern and beautiful design.
  • Smart load balancing ensures balanced distribution of power across all charging stations and the building.
  • Smappee Management Dashboard provides a clear overview of all charging sessions for both internal and external users.
  • Electrical components are one-to-one replaceable.
  • Open Smappee software communicates smoothly with back-end solutions from other providers.

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