François Tassart, VP, Sales, Marketing & Innovation for Albéa

Premium Beauty News - To better understand the challenges of your eminently global position, nothing can replace figures!

François Tassart - It’s true that figures can best put into perspective the challenges which are those of the Albéa teams in the world. Following the integration of Betts in our portfolio of companies, the Group now has no fewer than 31 plants, including twenty specialized in the production of plastic and laminated tubes. With regard to the other plants, they are specialized in the production of mascara, make-up cases, lipsticks, perfumes caps or jars for skincare products. The whole of our industrial tool is situated in thirteen countries from North America to Asia including western and Eastern Europe, Brazil and India. We also have a Beauty Solutions activity which includes, among other, bags and promotional items, full service and accessories for which we rely on a network of specialized partners.

All these activities employ more than 9,000 people and generate a turnover of almost one billion dollars. And what about customers in all this... A dozen of them account for half of this turnover, they are the so-called "Global" Customers. And in addition, there are nearly a thousand of so-called "Regional" Customers. With a turnover ranging, for some of them, from 20 million dollars to several thousand euros for others. Of course, the needs of these two families are not the same and our organization addresses them appropriately.

Premium Beauty News - An organization that revolves around a few key principles!

François Tassart - Yes indeed, for large global customers, there is obviously a basic principle consisting in the setting up of a dedicated team for each of them, but for day-to-day activities, the other key principle to follow is flexibility to address a given problem appropriately. A particular large customer has its own specificities in terms of product lines and industrial structures for conditioning and we have a duty to adapt to them.

The other key factor is the speed of reaction! I know I may seem paradoxical compared to the size of our Group. But nevertheless, it remains a reality. We must act swiftly. I can cite the example of a large company that we supply with tubes and who decided to entrust us with its orders of lipstick tubes for the Russian market. It didn’t take us long to make up our minds and decide to manufacture some locally.

Generally, with our global industrial footprint, we can produce and deliver from anywhere in the world, a particular reference coming from our product catalogue. The principle is simple: we start supplying a particular country from one of our plants... and then, depending on a determined volume, we then decide to produce locally. Of course, this also allows us to launch a product in different parts of the world at the same time.

Premium Beauty News - A strategy that obviously forced you to review the scope of action of a number of your employees?

François Tassart - This generated quite a few changes. Starting with the perimeter of each of our sales representative which has completely changed mid 2009 since they are now selling our entire product portfolio. Needless to say also that the refreshment courses were a key element of this "upgrading" which is now permanent. An upgrading that takes into account the above mentioned objectives, namely responsiveness and flexibility on the entire chain. Because it is one thing to want something and it’s another thing to make it work!

Premium Beauty News - The notion of full service is also part of your "Global" strategy?

François Tassart - In line with our conviction that innovation implies the final consumer, it seems essential to know, one time or another, the type of product formulas that are conditioned in our packaging. As you know, we have a full service offer. But for Albéa, full service has a broader meaning: to provide the customer with the additional know-how he really need. In fact it’s one of Albéa’s guidelines, driven by this desire to provide a global offer and to acquire additional skills, we go wherever they exist. It can also involve joint ventures or even acquisitions.

Premium Beauty News - A "global" notion which was of course heavily boosted by the development of the Asian supply?

François Tassart - Things are actually changing! The logic implemented by large multinational companies which consisted in producing in emerging markets to serve mature markets has been changing for the past three years. The question that we must be able to address today is: "How do I set foot on a local market ...? How are some industrial partners going to support my approach locally...?" Relocation no longer remains wishful thinking. Hence our desire to be locally, industrially efficient to meet these requirements.