Quality + sustainability = competitiveness

girl in a bright colored paint body artEstablished in 1976, Amik Italia celebrated this year its 40th anniversary. The company, based in Milano, made its debut as a trader in chemicals and raw materials, but year after year it managed to develop a sound expertise in the cosmetics industry, becoming a global player
Formerly a trader in the arena of industrial raw materials and chemicals, the Milano-headquartered Amik Italia is today an important player in the cosmetics industry, thanks to the expertise it acquired in the fields of hair care, surfactants, anti-ageing, for instance. Founded in 1976, and therefore celebrating this year its 40th anniversary, today Amik runs five warehouses in Italy and three more in Brazil, where it opened a subsidiary in 2006. The strategy of internationalisation it underwent brought the provider to deliver its solutions in more than 20 countries worldwide. And nowadays overseas sales represent 15% of Amik’s overall annual turnover. Direct pigments and hair dyes are among the Milano-based firm’s specialties, but in addition to that, Amik Italia, who employs a global workforce of 50 people roughly, also operates as a private label and manufacturer of bleaching creams and powders. In the near-medium term, sustainability will possibly become more crucial in Amik’s business, and Carolina Gandini, cosmetic department manager, pointed out that «to promote sustainability means to take part in a most significant evolution» and that the challenge, now, is that of ensure customers a wide range of eco-friendly products building upon technologies. At the same time, to reduce the environmental impact by using cost-effective processes.

Carolina Gandini
Carolina Gandini

What does it mean to Amik Italia to be an eco-friendly manufacturer?
One of the most important issues we have to face is to carefully select our partners worldwide. It is now well known that a number of overseas facilities, following the first great wave of delocalisation, were transformed and restructured in order to fulfil the criteria of sustainability. To reduce Co2 emissions and to enhance environmental safety have become common goals for our global partners and plants, but still we must be aware that, if you look at eco-friendly solutions, a natural origin is not necessarily a synonym for green production. Such companies as Amik need to carefully analyse the market and industrial players it deals with in order to be sure to identify and offer a truly eco-friendly portfolio of formulations.

What was the roadmap You followed in order to reach this goal, in Italy and abroad?
As I said, by paying the maximum attention possible to the selection of our partners. We do know that the world of the so-called green products is evolving and changing quickly and that the growing request for natural items also implies, sometimes, a more intensive exploitation of natural resources, impacting on biodiversity. Our partners’ must display and adopt low-impact technologies and ensure a responsible and traceable usage of resources. To us, to pursue sustainability means to become part of a crucial change in which new generation technologies can also support us in reducing operational costs. For the first time ever, our positioning in the highest end of the market also allows the company to be more competitive.

What is the role of the research and development departments in Amik’s business?
Of course, our research and development activities play a fundamental role in our overall business, and our efforts are mainly devoted to innovative products, to the identification and enrolment of suitable talents; last but not least to best-of-breed technologies, that can help us solve the most challenging issues in formulation. Furthermore, to match supply and demand is becoming more and more complicated with time, and this is the reason why another most critical aspect of Amik’s business lies in promoting synergies among our business partners. Their strategies and goals might often diverge and our duty is, instead, that of promoting forms of cooperation, so to build upon their energy; and address it towards common goals.

What are the most important results that this roadmap allowed You to obtain?
Together with our customers, we decided to tackle unprecedented challenges in the area of formulation, for example, trying to match the different needs and languages of molecular researchers and developers on the one hand, and those of end users, on the other. From this point of view, the target is to overcome some old fashioned methods of formulation by enriching them with new ingredients. This way, we are confident that we will manage to solve a series of problems that would have looked as insurmountable in the past. With regard to our surfactants’ portfolio, especially, Amik is striving to bring sustainable solutions to the mass market too, at the same time focusing both on the chemical and non-chemical industry.

Does Your green philosophy also apply to the hair care sector?
It does, indeed. The hair care segment is one of the most important for Amik Italia and to follow our customers’ suggestions has always been one of our major points of strength in this field. As for intermediates, just to name one of our specialties, our portfolio has been enlarging constantly, passing from only a few to hundreds of references. Meanwhile, we managed to turn our bleaching solutions from the status of mere raw materials into a real third-party production business. This allowed Amik to develop further skills and knowledge about market dynamics and about the usage of innovative molecules in our finished products. Thanks to this policy, the company also managed to invest in new products and formulations.

How does the globalisation of the chemical industry impact on Your business today?
The dynamics and peculiarities of globalisation, together with the delocalisation of a variety of plants and facilities, have dramatically transformed the way to do business in the chemical segment, exposing it to the turbulences of international markets. It is my opinion that these days the chemical industry is undergoing a moment of growing enthusiasm and dynamism that will possibly pave the way towards unexpected horizons. It is poised for innovation and its attention to sustainability is consolidating with time: a trend that the search for environmental friendly solutions can perfectly witness. Most of all, I believe that to compete in the chemicals scenario requires an open-minded approach and the ability to create new synergies with different players, with innovation and sustainability as the primary goal. Chemicals and sustainability can go together well, in our view, and this is what the recent, impressive growth of aromatic ammines, for instance, has shown. We are confident that Amik Italia, together with its Brazilian subsidiary, can still play an important role in the arena of cosmetics and be a driver of its evolution. We always work to enrich our portfolio and managed to achieve significant results with our green surfactants and active molecules.

A home to research, development and innovation
Amik Italia mainly operates today in the sectors of water treatment, pharmaceutical, coating, feed, polyurethanes and, of course, cosmetics. Especially, in the beauty arena, the 40 years old company plays as a distributor of intermediates and direct dyes for professional skin care, but also as a manufacturer of bleaching powders and bleaching creams. A constant effort in the research and development of new ingredients and technology is also among its prerogatives; together with the aim to identify new green surfactants, sensory agents, active functional molecules. Green surfactants, as the firm itself states, are obtained with a completely eco-friendly process. While innovative sensory agents for cooling and warming effect, functional active molecules such as whitening and anti-aging agents are some of Amik Cosmetic Division’s latest proposals. The expertise that Amik Italia displays in the chemicals segment helped it to create a young and dynamic cosmetics team that initially focused on the professional hair care sector, that represents one of the company’s major points of strength.

Fast facts
With a 300 references portfolio, mainly addressing the needs of the cosmetics, plastics, coating and eco-sustainability segments, Amik Italia employs a workforce of 36 people in Italy and 15 workers in Brazil, where a sister-company was established in 2006 in Sao Paulo. Amik Italia and its Brazilian subsidiary also coordinate the operation of the branch office that the firm opened in Shanghai, China. It manages five warehouses in Italy and three more in Brazil and distributes its products in more than 20 countries, with exports representing 15% roughly of its overall yearly revenue. Eversmooth LC-HC01, silicone-free conditioning and repairing agent with a liquid crystal structure is one of the company’s latest novelties.

by R.Carminati