Gattefossè Italia is one of the 13 branch offices that the 136 years old French ingredients manufacturer owns around the world and its goal is to promote and distribute the company’s complete portfolio in Italy providing customers with technical support and services.
Established in 1880 in Saint-Remy de Provence and then moved to Lyon and Saint-Priest, France, Gattefossè began to introduce its cosmetics products in Italy in the early Sixties, thanks to a specialised distributor, Biofranchimica, that 20 years later passed under the company’s complete control. Today, the Italian branch office Gattefossè Italia employs seven people, focused on promoting and reselling the manufacturer’s offer in the whole country. Besides Italy, Gattefossè sells its specialties and ingredients for the skin-care industry in 60 nations worldwide, runs two facilities (in France and Singapore) and relies on a global workforce of nearly 300 professionals. Since 2007 the Italian headquarter, based in Milan, refers to Gattefossè Europe, that brought it, together with the French and German units, under the management of CEO Thierry Magnet. In his role of director of the Cosmetics division for the Italian market, Marco Castiglioni explained how the company is now devoted to «specific and unique solutions».
Could you give us an idea, mister Castiglioni, of Gattefossè’s recent evolutions?
Our mother company is pursuing a strategy of partnership with its customers worldwide, by ensuring them with a full range of services, marketing and technical support, assistance. Throughout the years we have been strengthening our focus on best-of-breed specialties, in order to offer a series of innovative, up to date and effective solutions. The investment on human resources, marketing and development – together with the efforts we make to always improve our facilities – is one of the major key-points of Gattefossè’s policy, and includes the training activities it dedicates to its commercial workforce. As a part of a global company, we share opinions, ideas, strategies and information with our colleagues worldwide, also thanks to a number of instruments and systems we implemented to empower our workflow. Tailor made troubleshooting and CRM solutions are available to all of our offices worldwide and a centralised logistics organization allows us to be fast, effective and flexible. And thanks to the establishment of Gattefossè Europe our marketing, sales and price strategies look, today, significantly more homogeneous and therefore targeted and successful.
What are, in Your opinion, Gattefossè Italia’s most important prerogatives?
I believe Gattefossè is a real landmark in the skin-care industry, especially for those Italian manufacturers who want their products to be innovative, effective and, last but not least, beautiful too. Together with its ingredients, Gattefossè delivers market trends and technical solution, with the purpose to address the medium or high quality market, although we also target the mass market, occasionally. We want to bring our customers scientific skills and technology, but the idea of beauty itself, regarding both our finished products and their final applications, is to be considered as a crucial notion in our overall philosophy.
What does the word innovation mean to You and Your company, Mr. Castiglioni?
Especially over the last 25 years Gatttefossè has tried to anticipate its customers’ requests by developing a number of solutions that were still unavailable on the market, and trying to fill these gaps. In the oleo-chemical industry, including emulsifiers and esters, the company developed 20 years ago a protocol to analyse the cosmetics emulsions tactile properties. The protocol allows us to perform an in-depth analysis on sensory perceptions and it proves most useful in determining a complete roadmap of finished products. Our ingredients must not only be up-to-date and modern in terms of usage, compatibility and versatility, but need to be able to offer a new sensory experience. The Emulium® Delta emulsifier, launched in 2000, is still one of our best-selling ingredients and represents a milestone in our evolution. It was followed by such products as the award-winning Emulium® Mellifera, developed in order to adapt its texture to different climates and based on the trans-esterification of polyglicerol-3 and natural waxes. This technology was then used for Emulium® Kappa 2 and Acticire®. As for functional products, Gattefossè is concentrating on a detailed documentation of their functionalities and effectiveness. Our latest release, that we unveiled at In-Cosmetics, is Gatuline® Renew, whose qualities aim to enhance the skin’s textures. An effect that Gatuline® Renew obtains by homogenising the colour of the skin, smoothening its surface, improve hydration and rebalance the desquamation process. The usage of NaDES, an innovative extracting technology on which we are presently working, will be Gattefossè’s next frontier.
Europe, the US, the APAC area: which one is the most promising market today?
Given that Europe still represents our largest and more consolidated market, in which we can display a widespread presence, the US are growing at a very impressive pace and still offer interesting opportunities, poised as it is for further expansion. Over the last decade Gattefossè has also heavily invested in China, India, South America and North Africa. Our Singapore plant was built with the purpose to optimise our logistics operations in Asia.
Could You spend a few words on the environmental sustainability of Your ingredients?
The message we are trying to deliver is that green formulations can give birth to great looking, effective and glamorous products. Sustainability and natural cosmetics are among our major points of strength, as our PEG-free and biologic certificated functional solutions – that play a crucial role in our portfolio and in our design activity – can clearly show. The attention we pay to environmental and socio-economic issues is also witnessed by the fact that a part of the trees used in our functional products, as Gatuline® In-Tense, are supplied by a group of South African farmers involved in the Black Economic Empowerment program. Generally speaking, the green chemistry concept plays an essential role here at Gattefossè’s and applies today to all of our products and processes. In addition, our recently opened Blanche Gattefossé Formulation Biopole is equipped with photovoltaic panels that make it completely energy-independent.
How does the company manage to deal with the tightening regulatory issues and how does it manage to fulfil the needs of an always more demanding customer base?
The regulatory issues are most critical for the Italian cosmetics industry, mainly made up of small and medium businesses, often third party providers. These companies build upon their ability and creativity to succeed on global markets and therefore all of their products have to be approved and certified by international regulatory bodies. So, if on the one hand customers require functional, versatile, innovative and cost-effective products, on the other they show the need to obtain a complete, clear and detailed documentation, in order to support the development of new finished products reducing operating times and costs. In the past, companies would devote a greater amount of time to testing operations, but today their need to use documented and tested functional ingredients is undoubtedly rising. This is the reason why Gattefossè deploys hundreds of tests to better understand the way its emulsifiers, just to name one category, actually work and making its skills available to formulators too. Furthermore, each of our ingredients comes with a so-called Master File we named Product Supraquestionnaire, a 20-page document including all of the technical and regulatory information we have.
What is the role of research and development in Your activity?
To us, research and development means to turn ideas into objects and to transform our clients’ requests into finished products. My opinion is that the Western world must today be able to sell its intellectual property and its ideas, in order to compete with the emerging countries and with their low labour cost. At the same time we cooperate with the scientific community, namely universities and research centres worldwide. Personally, I recently became a member of the Board at SICC, the Italian Society of Chemistry and Cosmetics Science and believe it is very interesting to give cosmetics research a contribution.
A great place to work
As Marco Castiglioni recalled, despite having been on the market for nearly 40 years Gattefossè Italia has preserved the same dynamism it used to display when it made its debut. To work for Gattefossè means to believe in its philosophy, and this includes the possibility to introduce new experiences and ideas, together with a solid technical knowledge and a favourable predisposition toward the relationship with customers and partners. Among the skills that the company requires, Castiglioni also mentioned the capability to manage projects, both with teammates and clients. In the next few years Gattefossè Italia is likely to add one more sales manager to its workforce, in order to achieve a better coverage of a part of its customer base.
Gattefossè’s mission is to develop specialty actives and functional ingredients to meet the latest market trends, by identifying and manufacture cosmetic active of vegetable origin, or functional ingredients with sensorial benefits; and oleo-chemical textures, building upon its skin-care expertise. The advantages its ingredients offer are always illustrated and described with a full package of technical data, also including information on their regulatory status, tolerance tests and environmental certificates.