With a turnover of some € 400 million in 2013, 18 manufacturing sites in the world (Brazil, China, USA, Spain, France and Poland) and 4200 employees, the Ileos group enjoyed between 2010 and 2013 a sharp increase in sales (+ 45%), thanks to its organic growth but also through targeted acquisitions outside Europe (Mappel in Brazil, Le Papillon and Aphena in the United States). A trend that continued in 2013, with an increase in the group’s turnover of about 14%.
“The year 2013 characterized itself by significant differences from one market to another,” pointed out Jean Rollier, the new President of the group. “Growth was quite low in Europe, between 0.5% and 1% depending on areas, with few launches. The year was good in the United States, yet the pace of growth slowed down in the last quarter. And growth remained strong in Asia and Brazil”.
Three areas of expertise
The activities of Ileos cover three main areas: a metal and plastic area with Axilone, which accounts for 28% of the turnover of the group (€ 110 million in 2013); a full service, formulation, sampling and single-dose area with Bioplan, representing 40% of sales (€ 160 million in 2013), and a graphics area (folding boxes, cases, leaflets, wedging systems…), with Alliora and Packetis (€ 130 million in 2013 and 32% of the group’s turnover). The group is present in two main markets: beauty (perfume, skincare, make-up) and pharmaceuticals / health.
It is undoubtedly Bioplan who has been the most active during 2013, with on the one hand, the acquisition of the U.S. Company Aphena Health & Beauty, a specialist in thermoformed sampling solutions for the make-up and skincare markets, and on the other, the strong development of activities in Brazil. Today, more than half (52% exactly) of Bioplan’s turnover is generated outside Europe, this proportion was only of 14% in 2010. “Regarding Brazil, sales were driven by local demand and the desire from international actors to produce locally”, explained Ludovic Anceau, CEO. “In the United States, we have now fully integrated Aphena, which enables us to strengthen our expertise in thermoformed technology for this market. Finally, in Europe, we have strengthened synergies between our different sites in order to increase our responsiveness.”
Axilone recorded in 2013 a significant increase in new businesses, all product lines included, indicating a significant increase for 2014. The year was marked by a consistent investment program, with new lacquering and metallization lines on its sites in Britain and the construction underway, of a new stamping plant in Spain.
Regarding the graphics area, the pooling of the technical and industrial capacities of Packetis and Alliora has enabled, according to Philippe Delclerck, the CEO of Iléos Graphic, “to better serve the hygiene and skincare segment.” In this area also, important multi–year investments are planned, particularly in the offset domain, in fully automated monitoring and in tools to fight counterfeiting.
Measured optimism for 2014
As for 2014, caution seems to be the watchword, given the many uncertainties in the various markets. Growth could well slow down in emerging countries. “In Brazil, forecasts are contradictory, China’s anti-corruption law has affected the market for corporate gifts,” he said. As for Europe, tensions in Ukraine could have significant economic consequences, complicating an already sluggish equation. “We are cautious but not pessimistic,” insisted however the new President of Ileos. “It might be more accurate to speak of measured optimism. We indeed made good business and the market remains positive”.
Observations are the same with Ludovic Anceau. “If demand remains strong in luxury, we have very little visibility for 2014”, said the CEO of Bioplan.
In spite of these uncertainties, the group is continuing its investments. Bioplan is continuing its structuring work and started to transfer the activities of the plants inherited from the various acquisitions, to the Flexpack site in New Jersey, which was broadened. The priority is to align the entire industrial tool on an industrial standard in line with a global market context. Axilone’s new Spanish plant will be operational as of September 2014, with an automatic anodizing line that will partly replace the current hand–operated lines, enabling to process larger volumes.
In addition, the group does not exclude further external growth operations. “We are working on several opportunities and we have the support of Oaktree, our shareholders, for that. But our ambition is not to become the largest operator in the arena. Investments, whether internal, on new technologies, or external, through the acquisition of new businesses or new geographic coverage, only make sense in terms of complementarity with our current activities,” said Rollier.