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Cosfibel kicks off a new chapter

Pascale Ruchon

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Cosfibel kicks off a new chapter

© Christophe Daguet / STUDIO DIGITALID

Acquisitions, new management, market reorientation, digitalization... French packaging group Cosfibel is gearing up for a major new stage in its development.

The big news this year from French premium packaging group Cosfibel is the acquisition of three French trading companies announced this week. Together, accessories specialist Laser, metal box manufacturer Boîte Alu, and MMB, in the paperboard and PET sector, represent a total of $15M in sales, and provide Cosfibel with a complementary product offering. The deal also points to a shift in the group’s market sectors, of which beauty currently accounts for 80%, wine and spirits 15%, and 5% for fine foods and other segments.

Cosfibel has inked a joint venture with Laser, a company well established in the aromatherapy and phytotherapy markets, and which supplies accessories to brands such as Yves Rocher as well as essential oil diffusers. The group's position in metal containers for high-end beauty and fine foods has been bolstered through the purchase of Boîte Alu, based in Bordeaux. Finally, with the acquisition of MMB, a specialist in paper, cardboard and PET packaging, Cosfibel is expanding its presence in the food sector. Based in the Netherlands, MMB operates a sourcing office in Warsaw and offers near-import solutions from Eastern Europe.

It seems that more purchases are on the cards. "We will continue our acquisitions in 2021, still with the same niche strategy; we’re aiming for complementarity and not growth just for growth's sake," Cosfibel founder and CEO Alain Chevassus tells Luxe Packaging Insight. Among its objectives: to increase manufacturing in Europe for luxury goods and to redeploy its Asian network. “We are present in Asia, but not in proportion to the size of the market," he notes. “While some 85% of our purchases are made in the region, we only invoice 15% of our sales directly.” But the world's leading manufacturer is also becoming the world's leading consumer. And in the area of luxury goods, China has overtaken the US in terms of consumption. "We need to approach the new Asian luxury brands and one way to do this will be to give local suppliers autonomy in terms of product creation, a field that was previously reserved for France.”

Executive changes underway

This strategy will be implemented under the responsibility of a new recruit: Marie Sermadiras, currently Executive Vice President of Cosfibel, will be appointed group CEO in January 2022. Co-founder of a start-up that later became the brand Treatwell, and then in charge of the digital strategy of L'Oréal's Active Cosmetics division, her mission is to bring new blood to Cosfibel.

"Our challenge is to go from an SME to a medium-sized company in the next three years," Sermadiras comments. “To do so, we need to find a balance between Cosfibel's historical values in terms of process, offer and creativity, and the transformations to be carried out. CSR and the company’s digitalization are among the major projects.” For the time being, there will be no change in capital, as Alain Chevassus remains the majority shareholder.

As to the health crisis, it should not have a long-lasting impact on Cosfibel's business. While turnover fell by 16% in 2020 to $70m, organic growth of 7% is expected this year. “I say this cautiously because it's a year of uncertainty," admits Chevassus. “But we are counting on repeat orders as well as on very short lead times, which Chinese customers are accustomed to. With the inclusion of the year's acquisitions, we could end the year at around $90m. But what I am certain of is that we will pass the $100m mark in 2022!"

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