Premium Beauty News - What was the outcome of the year 2008 for your company?
Franco Luca - As far as products are concerned, we were able to increase our sales by 4.5% compared to 2007. The main drivers for our growth were our innovations as well as our capability to customize products in a very competitive timeframe.
To be able to continue to launch successful innovations we need to improve further our service and presence in the French market. Therefore we decided to put in place our own sales organization in Paris before the beginning of July 2009. We took that decision because the French market is a clear target for us. In order to be able to provide our clients with new products we need to understand better their needs and requirements.
Our team in France will be led by Thomas Sirot. Mr. Sirot has already gained experiences in the industry. He has been working for Airsec Industries and Aircos in the past. His last position was at Toly, where he was General Manager of Toly France. In his team, Mr. Sirot will be assisted by a technical person, which will be linked with the customer and the factory in Germany.
In paralell, we decided to change the name of our commercial office in the US to Geka USA Corporation, from former Geka-Toly USA Corp.. Jerry Sapienza continues as president of Geka USA Corp., the staff and contact information remains unchanged.
Geka has also begun packaging production for the US market, and set up a manufacturing site in Elgin (Illinois), with the first customer specific items shipping in December, 2008. The facility will continue to ramp up production throughout 2009, with a commitment to existing customers to supply the market locally. This step will help both, Geka and customers to absorb the dollar’s fluctuations.
We share with our customers the will to shorten lead times and to influence positively the entire supply chain.
Premium Beauty News - What about innovation? What are the new products you are working on?
Franco Luca - Innovation is very important. It’s Geka’s philosophy and success.
Our focus remains on mascara. This is where our main expertise lays in, and this is what we keep improving. We are working on new generations of moulded and twisted brushes, testing new materials, technologies and shapes. We will present our second generation of moulded brushes by the end of 2009.
At the same time, we are working on a new development for innovative lip applicators and packaging concepts that we will present at the Cosmoprof show in Bologna.
By expanding and optimising our Building Block System, we will offer our customers a range of additional, personalised and yet non-exclusive packaging solutions. This eliminates the need to invest in own tools, while still enabling the customers to differentiate themselves in the market.
Also there is to mention our cooperation with a famous make-up artist from Hollywood. Michele Burke has already won two Oscars and we are very proud to team up with her. Michele, as an expert, evaluates our applicators, and in parallel, she designs her own innovative applicator line which is exclusively available from Geka. Her expertise brings Geka closer to the end consumer and helps us to understand more in detail the needs on the market.
We have invited Michele to some of our shows, such as in New York or in Monaco, and the customers’ feedback was impressive.
Premium Beauty News - Environment and sustainable development are the new buzzwords in the industry. How do you address this challenge?
Franco Luca - With a manufacturing site in Germany, we have always been confronted with demanding laws and regulations.
Our factory is located in a water protection area, all our plastics are 100% recycled or reused, we produce approx. 59% of our energy in Geka´s own gas-run thermal power station, etc. .
We do not see this topic solely as a buzzword. At Geka, we “live” that topic, because it’s much more than using bio-based or biodegradable materials. It’s the entire supply chain which has to be considered.
Premium Beauty News - As a consumer packaging solutions provider, in a context where your customers tend to externalise most of their production with a massive use of subcontractors, what is your opinion about “full service” ?
Franco Luca - We understand “full service” as being entiely devoted towards customers’ satisfaction, so they can gets everything from one source with no need to coordinate with different suppliers.
During the next five years, we’ll focus our investments on the value chain. We are working on agreements with customers as well as with partners that will enable us to increase our expertise and of course to add value to our customers and partners as well.
We believe that in today’s situation, our customers are looking for more added value and we try to invest in that direction.
Premium Beauty News - What about counterfeiting? Are you impacted by the phenomenon and how do you fight it?
Franco Luca - When it comes to the packaging, we realised that especially in Asia, a lot of companies are copying us.
When it comes to our moulded brushes, the material, shape and the precision of our brushes (especially the bristles), we are very proud, that no company has succeeded in copying our brushes. Our technologies and tools make counterfeiting difficult.
We keep our eyes always open and try not to give counterfeiters any chance. We monitor the market on a regular basis and whenever we believe that their might be an infringement we contact our customer as well as our competitors to find a solution.