Founded in 1993 by Charles Kloboukoff on the outskirts of La Rochelle, France, the Léa Nature group managed to settle as one of the main players in the fields of organic food and organic & natural cosmetics in just over two decades. In the cosmetics sector, the flagship brand sold in supermarkets, SO’ BiO étic, holds 28.3% market shares, which ranks it first, with a growth rate of over 35%. The Jonzac, Natessance, and Douce Nature brands, which are sold through specialized networks, also achieve a strong growth. All in all, Léa Nature counts 500 different references in skincare, hygiene, makeup, and hair care.
A continued growth
Today, the group supports this development in line with consumer expectations by opening an ecodesigned plant that spreads across 6,000 m2 dedicated to the manufacturing and conditioning of hypoallergenic, hygiene, and beauty products.
“The project was initially launched in 2010. At first, we had an 800 m2 manufacturing workshop within the company. But, since 2012, the permanent growth curve has enhanced the project with more ambitious objectives. It has turned from a workshop to a plant, an autonomous site designed around a process aimed to produce with a high reliability and quality level,” explains Julien Campion, the group’s Cosmetics Production Manager. “In 2016, we produced 10 million units. Now, it is 15 million, and in 2019, it will be 20. This figure already doubled in two years, so we need to get ready for this continuous growth, which corresponds to the market shares we gained from conventional products,” he adds.
The site is divided into 4 parts: an area dedicated to manufacturing, which went from 250 m2 to over 1,000 m2, a 1,100 m2 conditioning workshop featuring five filling lines, 2,000 m2 for packaging and raw material flow management, and 2,000 m2 for administration offices and Quality, Innovation, and R&D laboratories.
Faithful to its values, the group imposed a specific design and process to minimize the production environmental impact. They mainly focused on three aspects: water consumption, the discharge of effluents, and energy consumption.
“The cosmetics industry is subject to critical water consumption, whether it is to make products with purified water or to clean up machines. We were committed to focusing on this point,” explains Julien Campion.
The approach consisted in building a three-floor osmosis facility to produce 1,500 litres/hour of purified water, while minimizing discharge to the sewer. As regards tool disinfecting water, the idea is to optimize the various rinsing cycles, wastewater recovery, and pasteurization. Osmosis optimization will save 500 m3 of water per year, and 1,000 m3 will be saved as part of the cleaning process. “This model should make it possible to save more than 10% of our water needs,” says Julien Campion.
The site will also be fitted with a treatment facility based on the “biological disc” technology to capture all effluents and treat them naturally.
In addition, most materials are ecological: linoleum floors made of natural fibres, without PVC, or wooden floors, natural paints, and LED lighting.
“If Léa Nature did not use to be widely perceived as an industrial reference in cosmetics, it is becoming one,” observes Julien Campion.
Designed to evolve and get larger, depending on the group’s growth, the plant will be inaugurated in its first phase, in January 2019, and will start operating in April. It will help fulfil the production objective estimated at 21 million units in 2019, and then 40 million in 2021. It represents an investment of 20 million euros, including seven for manufacturing and conditioning equipment.
“We need to be able to make both small series and shower gels in large quantities to match the diversity of our references. The challenge for this plant is to keep our natural flexibility, while satisfying the industrial capacity needs, so that the organic sector can keep booming,” concludes the production manager.