Premium Beauty News – What targets did you define when you became the Head of Cosfibel?
Marie Sermadiras – Cosfibel has existed for 20 years: it is an SME held by its founder, which is rare enough in this industry, so this new chapter will be marked by continuity, by preserving its heritage, while bringing some form of transformation. The idea is to modernize the way we work, while upgrading the secondary packaging and gift sectors. If we have a closer look at statistics, the group achieves a 90-million turnover right now, and I intend to reach 300 million in three to five years.
Premium Beauty News – How do you mean to do that?
Marie Sermadiras – Our strategy is divided into three key points to work on over several years. The first consists in preserving our historical strengths: creativity, with our in-house design studio, reliability, which is in our DNA, and customer knowledge. Then, we aim to keep going with the diversification initiated two years ago. We are known for serving the luxury segment in the cosmetics industry, but we also work for the wine and spirits, delicatessen, and retail sectors, and increasingly often with the fashion, watchmaking, jewellery industries, etc. Our diversification is also geographic, as we are consolidating our offices in Shanghai and NYC, and industrial: we have been enhancing our production capacities. We have a historic plant in Barcelona, a workshop in Porto, Portugal, and we recently purchased two plants in Belgium. We aim to keep purchasing new sites, mainly in Europe, to benefit from know-how with metal, wood, and cardboard. Right now, our plants mainly work with cardboard and RPET, and we would like to diversify our materials. The third priority is innovation, to modernize our trade and put our sector back in the spotlight.
Premium Beauty News – What are your innovation projects based on?
Marie Sermadiras – Innovation is based on our CSR approach. We have obtained the Ecovadis Platinum certification level, a great way to have our work acknowledged, as we have been changing our methods in terms of eco-design, supply chain, to become greener, and ethical and social issues. But the next step involves finding new materials. We have been making much progress with open innovation research in collaboration with partners, laboratories, research centres, our suppliers, but also our customers, to invent new materials or select materials that are not used in our trade and adapt them to our own constraints. We aim to develop as many solutions as possible to help our customers change their own methods and combine CSR and luxury: for example, more sophisticated RPET to give the impression of false leather or velvet, recycled leathers, textiles made from paper pulp, recycled textiles, linen supply chains more interesting than cotton… materials represent a real issue. The same goes for sealing systems. Just like for materials or technical processes, we registered multiple patents to get 100% mono-material sealing systems with friction or zip-free systems instead of magnets. All this considerably changes our packs recyclability.
Premium Beauty News – Is pack & gift compatible with a CSR approach?
Marie Sermadiras – It is an integral part of the consumer experience. Premium or luxury brands do need these tools to be convincing: they are still a major purchase driver. However, methods really need to be changed. We need to adopt more virtuous approaches, reduce quantities, place eco-design at the core of our strategy, and work on the supply chain and logistics, in particular to target weight. The ode to lightness is gradually becoming a luxury code. It invites us to rethink the way we design pack & gift and work on materials to make them lighter. It is one of the key changes to make.
Premium Beauty News – How do you stand out from your competitors?
Marie Sermadiras – Using innovation, these new materials and systems that will help change our methods. The other key point in our DNA is the fact that we are willing to go even more upstream with our customers’ marketing teams. I come from this world, so I am familiar with marketing and consumer expectations. We are positioned as a creative partner that designs experiences, like the unboxing specialist.
We aim to support our customers in creating this experience to increase the perceived value of their products. And we are doing this on the global level, since we are lucky enough to have about twenty offices around the world. It helps adapt to each country’s marketing codes and draw inspiration from markets that are usually one step ahead, namely the US and Asia.
Premium Beauty News – You have your own plants in Spain and Belgium, but you also outsource part of your products in China. Have you set up a relocation strategy, like a number of market players?
Marie Sermadiras – We do outsource manufacturing, but we have all tailor-made products designed by our design studios. We also have our own teams on-site at partner plants. Given the context, I deliberately adopt the opposite approach to this massive relocation, because I prefer to talk about balance. Time-to-market in Europe is longer, paradoxically, than in Asia. If I send a brief to China, I will have my product earlier than in Europe, even with maritime transport. Right now, in Europe, we do not have the same capacities, especially since everyone has brought part of their production back. In addition, raw material and energy prices have risen much more than in China. So, relocation is very well, but we need to find a balance to diversify sourcing. It also helps guarantee the safety of our supplies: it is the biggest issue for our customers, and also the greatest risk.