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Cosfibel's Alain Chevassus: "We've chosen to invest for the future"

Christel Trinquier

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Cosfibel's Alain Chevassus:

In the run-up to the 2021 edition of LUXE PACK Monaco, Luxe Packaging Insight spoke with the heads of leading packaging suppliers on the current market and how the luxury packaging show will help them address a changing landscape Second in our series is Alain Chevassus, Founder and CEO of Cosfibel.

The crisis has impacted the entire industry: how has Cosfibel coped?

Our reaction has been to invest for the future: since value was destroyed, the only thing to do was to recreate it. Between 2020 and 2021, we set about doing just that: in France, we acquired BoiteAlu, a company located in the Bordeaux region, to strengthen our metal division in the food and beauty markets. In the Netherlands, we purchased 100% of the capital of MMB, a specialist in rigid and folding cardboard and PET packaging, particularly for the fine-foods sector. Lastly, we finalized our joint venture with Laser Paris, which will enable us — among other things — to penetrate the aromatherapy and phyto-cosmetics markets.

It's essential to understand that in 2020, the orders from our main customers in the premium beauty market fell between 20 and 25% on average, meaning that our overall turnover dropped by 16%. As a result, we diversified and expanded our activities. Our strategy was to invest in related and/or complementary segments and in new territories — such as in Benelux, where we had a small presence — mainly in niche areas within our existing markets. I'm extremely pleased with this strategy, as we are emerging from the crisis as a consolidated company. Both consolidated and rejuvenated: I felt it was essential to take advantage of this period to organize the company's succession and bring in new blood by placing younger people, under the age of 40, in key positions. As of 2022, Marie Sermadiras, our new Executive Vice President — at only 31 years old — will take over as CEO of Cosfibel.

What was your innovation focus during the 18-month crisis?

We didn't want to launch any innovations on the market in 2020 in light of the economic situation; it wouldn't have made much sense. This is borne out by the fact that even in the promotional segment, we received quite a few repeat orders, which is extremely rare in this category. That said, we didn't just sit back and relax; we’ve worked hard on new box solutions for luxury e-commerce, for one. The shift has begun in this area and we have to be creative. Our teams developed six new high-end proposals, each of which includes a primary packaging with a flat corrugated cardboard shipper, but also tissue papers, ribbons, printable cards and accessories: velvet pouches, spatula applicators for cosmetics, make-up brushes... The idea being to recreate a true unboxing experience. For its Plum in Cognac fragrance, perfumery brand Scents of Wood entrusted us with a custom designed box: our studio created a paper and cardboard box with drawers; thanks to a play of varnish and printing, it visually and tactilely reproduces the sensorial aspect of wood. It is then inserted in a black printed shipper.

What are you expecting from Luxe Pack Monaco this year?

This edition of the show will provide us with a place to meet and interact with the industry; Lord knows we’ve missed that! The way I see it, creation is closely linked to the meetings we make. And of course, we'll finally be able to present our new collections.

To give you a preview, Cosfibel has been working on three axes: sustainability, by integrating more sustainable materials (organic cotton, lightweighted wood, recycled and recyclable polyesters); a variation on the monomaterial axis, which shows the astonishing possibilities of reinventing the same box using different materials; and our Green is the New Chic collection, which we'll unveil in Monaco. This collection is somewhat of a manifesto that aims to show that it's possible to create eco-designed products that look great without sacrificing luxury’s codes or the premium dimension. It is certainly a difficult balancing act, but one that seems essential to us at a time when luxury is on the verge of being seen as a cardinal sin!


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