A visionary man, Manuel Viegas, the former owner of SIMP? Undoubtedly, yes! But a visionary who also had the chance of making a name for himself over the years, as the industrial arm of innovation for wipers and injected mascara brushes for L’Oreal. "Actually, explains Eric de Bardonnèche, Sales and Development Director, our adventure in mascara began with the wiper. A seemingly insignificant small accessory but which is fundamental to ensure an even distribution of the bulk on the brush." Precisely, this is where the French firm will stand out: an elastomer-based wiper (and not just any elastomer!) proves being much superior to its thermoplastic-based counterpart.
Invest every year 8 to 10% of sales
At the beginning of 2011, Manuel Viegas is convinced that the development of its business depends on the entry of new shareholders in his company. Hence it is Alain Blondel, who has a 30 year experience in beauty with cosmetic brands and their suppliers, who takes over the company in July the same year, along with Eric de Bardonnèche and an investment fund (Crédit Agricole Private Equity, now Capital Omnes).
"I was immediately seduced by this company," explains Blondel. "It matched perfectly what I was looking for, that is to say, a small French company performing and ultra-specialized in a fast growing area and which produced an apparently simple product with a high technical content."
Upon their arrival Bondel and de Bardonnèche get on with the job with clear goals: "Invest each year between 8 and 10% of revenues to have an oversized capacity and therefore be able to cope with changing needs, always have a fleet of machines at the cutting edge of technology, never stop automating all the production phases of the process and internationalize the customer portfolio."
The mastery in two materials
A year later, things have well advanced. Two new electric injection presses were added this year to the already existing fleet of twenty five plastic injection presses currently running, and a new 150 tons automatic rubber press has just arrived in addition to the fifteen in operation. The firm produced last year some 100 million injected mascara brushes and 90 million wipers. "And we are currently working hard, underlines Blondel, to both diversify ourselves (lip gloss and different applicators for tubes for example) and internationalize ourselves. We have become specialists in tailor-made products and we intend to accelerate our growth in this niche, with, moreover, a true know-how in the joint mastery of two materials, thermoplastics and vulcanized elastomers."
Hence the creation from scratch of an "innovation pole" within the company. Six new patents are issued or on the brink of being validated. Innovation ... but also responsiveness! "We can come up with a pilot mould in eight weeks, underlines de Bardonnèche, and develop series moulds in ten to twelve weeks time."
And by the way, Our logo has also had a make over... A logo that indicates more clearly that the company is fully dedicated to the beauty sector. And we must admit the result is impressive.