François Luscan, CEO, Albéa

Premium Beauty News - 2016 was a good year for the Albéa Group?

François Luscan - Definitely, yes! The start of the year was quite good. We are matching market growth and sometimes even performing better. The make-up sector is doing very well, skincare too but with disparities depending of geographical areas and, as everyone knows and observes, the perfume sector is struggling. The key word for us is to "adapt" all the time! Agility is the main challenge, especially since what characterizes the present time is the lack of visibility.

For us, what is important is "after"! It involves staying at the top and be the best at what we do and never stop innovating and going forward! Our philosophy and commitment have always been based on the future. But this future has accelerated dramatically. The best example is this soaring digital revolution and the practical consequences for our businesses. As you know our reason for being is to combine reliability and agility to support our customers’ ambitions and the many challenges of our market. That is why we develop the collective intelligence of our networks worldwide, the digitalization of our industrial sites, the information tools of our teams and the connectivity of our packagings. I would like to stress, in particular, on this notion of "smart factories" that we have implemented and which enables us to develop this technological and industrial reliability, to promote the agility of processes and of the supply chain and to meet the requirements of sustainable development.

Premium Beauty News - What matters the most actually is "the" customer’s satisfaction!

François Luscan - I couldn’t agree more! And in this area, we strive to continually improve ourselves. Thus, thanks to a new software that we have designed and that allows to manage development projects and the project portfolio according to the so-called "PPM" method (Project and Portfolio Management). Now, we also offer our customers with a very high reliability rate in project developments. This management method allows us to follow on everything regarding the project development, from design to realization, including risks involved.

Premium Beauty News - The industrial tool is therefore constantly changing!

François Luscan - On our sites, we are currently deploying a very ambitious automation project focused on both, people and clients. It relies in particular on the standardization and flexibility of certain equipment, to ensure greater agility in the implementation of new projects, to provide back-up capacity, and facilitate the deployment or the rapid transfer of equipment according to the needs. And advanced robotics today makes it possible to develop robots that work more independently, that are more flexible, and with a higher cooperation with operators. This is important, to work on small runs efficiently, which is key with the multiplication of small brands, for example in the make-up sector..., small brands that will often grow! More generally, we invest every year nearly $ 100 million in our sites, our equipment, our processes and to train our teams.

Premium Beauty News - Today, environment can only be at the heart of industrial concerns?

François Luscan - It has always been for us in any case! I cannot list here all the things that we are doing in this area, it would probably deserve a separate article, but for example we are currently deploying an energy consumption management program on our sites via connected meters that provide a real-time monitoring and allow a rapid correction of any slippage. Our commitment to social responsibility, that we have been developing for over 10 years, includes our teams and our communities, our products, our operations, our customers and our partners. Moreover, we are extremely proud to have received last week in the Luxe Pack in Green award for Corporate Social Responsibility!

Premium Beauty News - Concerning "Digital", you have obviously given a major boost!

François Luscan - That’s true but it was necessary! We are integrating digital printing. We are working on 3D Printing or Direct Digital Manufacturing. The third component concerns digitization, i.e. "Smart IT". Its goal is to design and provide our teams with a more ergonomic, simpler and at the same time more secure information system. We have appointed a Cyber Security Manager and integrated designers to redesign our IT systems to improve ergonomics and develop more intuitive and transverse business applications. There is also "Albéa Pulse" that provides Operational Managers with real-time key performance indicators for each industrial site... or "Smart Glasses", a remote technical assistance industrial system... Not to mention "Smart Packaging" to reflect with our clients on the development of intelligent packagings, on digital technologies to rethink products traceability and anti-counterfeiting, etc... "Albéa Mix & Match" enables to virtually create tailor-made tubes, "Albéa Connect" is, as you know, our first B2B application on connected packagings and finally "Albéa Virtual MakeUp" is a virtual make-up application that combines our packaging solutions, countless make-up shades and the augmented reality technology to detect the exact contours of the face.

Premium Beauty News - Resources are needed to implement all these human and industrial projects?

François Luscan - With the encouragements of our customers and the support of our shareholders, we have them! Don’t forget that we invest each year between 6% and 7% of our turnover and that we have doubled in seven years both our sales and staff and that we successfully completed five acquisitions. What is important is obviously to be able to carry on our development. Hence the rumours you heard about the quest for a partner with both the financial capacity and the aim to support Albéa’s development.

Premium Beauty News - You presented a lot of new models recently?

François Luscan - As always! It’s in our DNA! Again, I cannot list them all but I am very proud of this eyeliner with a pivoting applicator designed specifically for Lancôme. And this clever cap engineered for the new creation of the Cartier fragrance house is also superb with a capping system and a downward and upward motion to release the pump. And many other great achievements for our customers! As far as technical innovation was concerned, we were also proud to introduce Maestro, a non-guided Ø12.7mm lipstick mechanism featuring the patented “flex tab technology” for a controlled and constant swivel torque. New also, the "TearDrop" tube, presented in preview, for the drop-by-drop dispensing of liquid formulas...

Premium Beauty News - You were mentioning it earlier between the lines... Managing an industrial company with fifteen thousand people spread in thirty eight industrial sites across the world while remaining flexible, reactive, innovative... Quite a challenge indeed?

François Luscan - Let’s say a constant and exciting challenge! Because this challenge concerns, we must keep that in mind, women and men and a cohesive and committed team. We must always go further, move quickly but effectively combine strength and agility, understanding how our market and our customers are changing in order to adapt constantly. Thus, Albéa will continue to support its customers and will last.