It was a serious blow, but the company managed to bounce back beautifully. In February 2017, a devastating accidental fire burned to the ground the industrial site that Technature had acquired a few months earlier to Laboratoires Science et Mer. "The next day, all of the Group’s employees got organized and focused on what was essential, namely to maintain production and fulfil pending orders," detailed Pierre Morvan, CEO of the Breton Company.
Pierre Morvan makes no secrets of the fact the following months were difficult. But today he can only be pleased and proud of the long way his company has come from. Throughout this period, the French subcontractor retained the confidence of almost all of its customers, ensured continuity of production and maintained sales level. "We very quickly started rebuilding the factory, while the offices had not been destroyed," he explained.
Fully operational since the beginning of the year, the new building has a filtered air system, over-pressured in the manufacturing areas and a supply in filtered and biosmosed water to comply with FDA requirements. The production area spanning over 3500 m² (including 2000 m² dedicated solely to manufacturing and packaging operations) was designed to allow an increase of 1000m². Similarly, 1000m² of additional storage space remains available for the future. "This reconstruction has already allowed us to increase threefold our production capacity and anticipate future production ramp-ups."
At the same time, production was re-thought to specialize the sites. Today, Technature can rely on two production units located a few kilometres apart, near Brest: in Dirinon, the historical 4500 m² unit now focuses on powders, while at Relecq-Kerhuon the reconstructed unit is dedicated to leave-on cosmetics. There is also a logistics platform of 5000 m² located on a plot adjacent to the Dirinon site. "We hadn’t planned things like that at first, but when the opportunity arose we immediately seized it. This enabled us to separate the flows of raw materials and of packaging. This is also where are grouped all the finished products before their shipping. This enables us to maximize the space dedicated to production," said enthused Pierre Morvan. This additional space will also facilitate the upgrading works for the historic site, which have just begun, thus allowing Technature to have homogeneous units.
Innovation and naturalness
With this solidly reconfigured industrial base, Technature can now entirely focus on winning over new customers. And for this, the subcontractor has a number of assets! Specialized at first in alginate-based formulas, the company has since, widely diversified its offering and now proposes a wide range of products, designed, produced and packaged in its facilities.
Being the only manufacturer in Europe of hydrogel for cosmetic applications, Technature is facing growing demand for these products. New packaging lines are being installed and several innovations will soon be presented, including a natural gel from algae extracts. A COSMOS certified gel is even planned in the short term.
"Even though we never restricted our activity to that, Technature’s DNA lies in natural cosmetics. Our offer for natural products is fully in line with market demand and new consumer expectations," emphasized Anne-Claire Roudaut, Marketing and Communication Manager. "We can rely on a well-developed expertise and technologies to meet market demand, which is sky-rocketing, including for our anhydrous formulas, in line with current demand."
Initially recognized for its expertise in masks, the company has successfully expanded its expertise to many other categories, well beyond the professional circuit. Technature, for example, supplied a glittery scented powder to Quadpack, who was showcasing a powder spray bottle at the last PCD Paris. "What our customers expect from us are innovative and original textures. This is how we manage to stand out from the pack," added Anne-Claire Roudaut.
Technature is therefore resolutely setting course on innovation with the aim of going even further in terms of naturalness and use of new materials. "For our teams, we pay a lot of attention in preserving their moments of creativity and collaboration, with a lot of freedom to foster the emergence of ideas," explained Pierre Morvan.
A strategy which has paid off so far. While the company’s activity was slowed down for two years after the 2017 fire, teams remained loyal and united. Technature, which employs 160 employees for a turnover of 20 million euros, half of which generated by export sales (25% in Europe and 25% for the rest of the world), wants to return to growth, with an ambitious target of 20% per year in the next three years. The company was identified by BPI as part of its national accelerator programme to become a mid-market company in the short-term. "We have all the assets to succeed: loyal teams, innovative products in line with current trends, a high-performance industrial tool and significant production resources," concluded the CEO.