Premium Beauty News - Sicaf has recently invested in a new R&D centre, what are its objectives?
Lionel De Deken - This is a major concern for us. This new site allows us to grow with innovative projects. It has been sized to meet our growth ambition for the next 10 years. It will be an important tool for the consolidation of our industrial and R&D capabilities.
This new building is home to some 20 people and can accommodate up to 40. It has a laboratory organised into formulation islands, with a surface area three times that of our previous facilities.
Pierre Planès - This new R&D centre is organised into several poles. A pole dedicated to prospective and technology watch, to create innovative textures. As well as specialised development centres which, based on our customers’ briefs and the work of the prospective team, develop high-performance, bespoke products. All of this is, of course, supported by a regulatory department that ensures the compliance of formulas.
This allows us to propose two or three prospective collections each year, inspirational formulas that we present to our customers to illustrate our capabilities, and feed their development strategy. In addition, the laboratory takes part in the cross-functional projects of the Anjac Health & Beauty Group.
Premium Beauty News - Precisely how are the synergies organised between the Sicaf R&D and the other entities of the Group?
Pierre Planès - Anjac has an R&D Committee that I chair. It is a place where information is fed back and shared between our different entities, but also where technological innovations and highly specialised products are created and developed.
Lionel De Deken - The twelve entities of the Group  offer a unique development and deployment potential. Their complementarity allows for rapid transfers of knowledge and expertise. When customers submit projects to us, they are transferred to the most appropriate entity. We also offer synergies between regions, for example in some cases Sicaf formulates for a US brand and our US subsidiary, Cosmetix West, takes care of the manufacturing in the US.
Premium Beauty News - What are Sicaf’s main lines of research and innovation today?
Lionel De Deken - Our strategy of growth and differentiation is based on the creation of disruptive and innovative formulas. We are recognised as skincare experts, specialising in hot cast products (balms, deodorants, solid cosmetics) and powder micro-dosing. We also have a long and valued history of expertise in fragrance derivatives, which has given us a rare ability to work on highly concentrated fragrance formulations.
Our top priority is to meet the expectations of our customers, major French and international brands operating in the masstige, premium and luxury segments, who are looking for effective formulas with a very distinctive sensory signature.
Pierre Planès - Overall, clean beauty is the segment that is experiencing the strongest growth. To better address this trend, the Anjac Health & Beauty Group has joined forces with Beautylitic, the scientific analysis and evaluation tool for beauty formulas, which allows us to advise our customers right from the product design phase.
Also, another major research focus is obviously on natural, organic and sustainable formulas. We aim to offer the highest levels of naturalness and sustainability, without compromising the sensoriality that consumers are used to.
This can be a real challenge, especially for solid products where our expertise in hot casting is a huge asset. These solid formulas are becoming increasingly popular because they are a good fit with current concerns. They contain little or no water, require little or no preservatives and therefore offer high levels of naturalness and do not require complex packagings. Our researchers are truly focused on providing the next generation of solids, the one that comes closest to traditional skincare textures. Already in 2019, we received an award for this at the Cosmétagora trade show.
Even for creams, switching to natural textures without silicone that are as effective in terms of sensoriality requires a lot of research. This is also innovation! This know-how is truly the distinguishing feature of Sicaf.
Premium Beauty News - How did you deal with the health crisis?
Lionel De Deken - Despite the difficulties, it has been a very rewarding period. We bounced back very quickly by producing hydroalcoholic gels to make up for the drop in revenue during the first months of the crisis.
We used the opportunity to rework our organisation and our future strategy. We have continued to invest in R&D, suspended lower-priority investments and retained all our teams to be ready for the upturn.
Some of our customers have bounced back very quickly too by turning to direct sales and the Internet, others have reorganised themselves, and others took advantage of the recovery in Asia. Today, we respond to requests that are sometimes very demanding.
In summary, I can say that we have emerged from the crisis stronger than ever!