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Packaging & design

Peter Pfeiffer, Aptar: “Innovate, convince, persist!”

USD 1.8 billion in sales last year, and a prospect of 2 billion this year, 9,000 staff spread in 19 countries: the business card of the Aptar Group has become impressive over the years. A Group built in thirty years’ time from the creation, from scratch of companies, but also from successive buy-outs of direct competitors and / or complementary companies. “The most important fact”, explains Peter Pfeiffer, President and CEO, “is that in recent years the market has obviously changed a lot. The Aptar Group had no other solution than change its business model. The previous organization, by product didn’t make sense any more. It was necessary to be more market-oriented”. Since several weeks, changes are underway. The operation will be finished by the end of the year. Exclusively for Premium Beauty News, Peter Pfeiffer gives us his explanations.

Peter Pfeiffer, President and CEO, Aptar

Peter Pfeiffer, President and CEO, Aptar

Premium Beauty News - Could you please tell us more about the major restructuring your Group went through recently?

Peter Pfeiffer - As you know, the creation of Aptargroup was the result of the spin off of Seaquist from the American Pittway Corporation and at the same time the acquisition of the Pfeiffer company in 1993.

Seaquist included at that time several other companies, most of them at least from the beginning focused on manufacturing of dispensing pumps and aerosol valves, in particular for the perfume, cosmetic and personal care industries.

Companies at the time were Pfeiffer, Valois, Perfect, Emsar. Over the years we have become an undisputed leader with the market share of 30 % to 80 % depending on the market we are serving. We gradually diversified into other sectors often related to the same business with new products like for instance closures. Other companies from France and from abroad specialized in upscale plastic injection (MBF) components have been acquired. Most of all these companies where competing with each other on the market.

The market had changed considerably over the past ten years. It had become global and huge “customer” Groups had formed. So we had to fundamentally change the very structure of our Group in directing teams towards what was the essential purpose of our business, namely, “markets”.

That’s the reason why we started a few months ago a strategic realignment which led to the creation of Aptar Beauty + Home, Aptar Food + Beverage and AptarPharma. We have always been driven by the desire to better serve our customers, first by constantly improving the understanding of their expectations and secondly, by anticipating market trends. Our ambition is that this new organization will facilitate the relationship with our customers and will offer them a wider product range in all three segments. This new strategic step will allow us to continue our growth in the long term and consolidate our leadership in our industry.

Premium Beauty News - How many people does this realignment directly concern?

Peter Pfeiffer - More than 2,000 people are concerned throughout the Group. It is therefore an important task which has been undertaken. A task, which is as a matter of fact, being implemented smoothly and which will be completed by the end of the year. 2010 will be the transitional year between the former and new Aptar. You mustn’t forget that this new organization aims to reinforce our ability to better identify the expectations of our markets and to implement them quickly under the form of new innovative dispensing systems fully adapted to the needs of our customers.

Premium Beauty News - Innovation is one of Aptar’s main assets! Is it still possible to innovate in your segment?

Peter Pfeiffer - Quite true! Innovation has always been the driving force behind our business. We have placed innovation at the heart of our strategy by continuously strengthening our R&D organizations and forging a strong and durable network of partners. Of course, it is still possible to innovate in this market. And Aptar Beauty + Home will continue to focus on developing innovative dispensing systems. It is clear that this new organization aims at providing our customers with unprecedented levels of services and quality products, even higher than the ones they were expecting from our former brands.

Premium Beauty News - A few recent examples in terms of innovation?

Peter Pfeiffer - It’s very difficult to make a choice. But, however, we can mention the latest developments in terms of samples and promotional products with the Travel Fragrance range which has seen recently the addition of the Travel Spray which allows consumers to use their favorite fragrance in all circumstances. We can also name our irresistible pump. An innovative pump that participates to the sustainability of health care products, and cosmetic products by avoiding contamination. The patented valve ensures protection of the formula while optimizing the pack’s reliability.

But innovation can also consist in updating a former innovative product. This is the case with “Eternelle”, the bulb atomizer guaranteeing a totally new and unrivalled locking device. Note that, on production lines, manufacturers can directly mount the bulb on the bottle of perfume.

Premium Beauty News - When will pumps be designed with electronics inside them?

Peter Pfeiffer - You know it already exists! And we’ve worked hard on this issue. This is certainly the technology of our century. But in this area we must give time to time. It must match market needs. Times will come.
Remember our famous valved closure “simply squeeze” for ketchup-type products. It took ten years for it to impose itself.

Premium Beauty News - Your Group eventually worked its way out of the crisis relatively serenely!

Peter Pfeiffer - We have the chance of being very diversified and we supply the whole planet. We’re operating in the perfumery, cosmetics, but also the food industry, pharmaceuticals and household products. We provide highly dynamic country like China, Brazil and India. A market offsets the other and vice versa.

If the first months of 2009 were particularly harsh, the last quarter of this year and the first six months of 2010, on the contrary, kept us very busy. Overall we were down by only 11% during the year 2009. This does not keep us from being very vigilant for the coming months.

Premium Beauty News - Your group is listed in the stock market and can therefore be subject to any potential market fluctuations. Yet, contrary to received ideas concerning the “short term” strategy often imposed by these “markets”, Aptar has built and continues to build itself on the long term. What is your receipt?

Peter Pfeiffer - “Markets”, as you say, in this case our shareholders have always understood the benefits of having a long-term industrial strategy. This is what has ensured and will ensure the sustainability of our Group. Wet must be persuasive and persistent. The pharmaceutical sector, in particular, has taught us that.

Premium Beauty News - There is bound to be some markets in which Aptar is not operating yet?

Peter Pfeiffer - Depending on the technology we manufacture, I think we are operating almost everywhere. We do not have an acquisition strategy based on the sake of “growing for growing”. It must be in line with the acquisition of new technologies and new markets.

But it’s true there are some segments where we have an interest in increasing our presence. The make-up area is one of them.

Interview by Jean-Yves Bourgeois

© 2010 - Premium Beauty News -
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