"We are now developing Singapore as a financial and logistics hub for all activities in the region, and we will keep investing in the city in the coming years."
Could you walk us through Azelis’s growth in APAC over the last five years?
Azelis is a well-established innovative solutions provider of specialty chemicals and food ingredients, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and with a global presence in over 50 countries. Since 2016, Azelis has increased its focus on Asia Pacific (APAC), which today, represents 10% of our overall business, doubling in percentage since 2015. In terms of organic growth, we signed significant partnerships with key players, such as Roquette for Food & Health Indonesia, Merck and Gattefossé in personal care. Despite the challenges of 2020, we had a very active year in terms of M&A; Azelis made two major acquisitions in the personal care market in China, an acquisition in the pharma space in India, and one in food ingredients in Indonesia. So far in 2021, we completed the acquisition of CW Pacific in Australia, which reinforced our position in food & health, and announced acquisitions in Vietnam and the Philippines focused on personal care and CASE (coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers).
What are the key market segments Azelis positions itself in?
In APAC, we have defined four segments where we would like to ultimately become market leaders: food & health, specialty Agri/Horti, personal care, and CASE. The focus on these segments follows a practical needs-based logic: with 60% of the global population found in Asia, a fundamental demand of this large consumer base is food, and we seek to position ourselves as a key player in the food, agriculture and horticulture spaces. Geographically, China and India are the biggest markets by far, and we are looking to further expand our presence in the Indian subcontinent, as well as Taiwan in the future.
Azelis’s tagline is “INNOVATION THROUGH FORMULATION”; how is Azelis leveraging its innovation expertise and capabilities to differentiate in the market?
As the services required of distributors have become increasingly more elaborate, evolving from simple distribution to providing regulatory and logistical support, as well as formulation development, Azelis has differentiated ourselves through three main pillars: innovation, sustainability, and digitalization.
We have more than 60 labs worldwide, of which 20 are in APAC. Innovation is truly integral to Azelis, as we have been recognized with over 20 innovation awards in the last few years.
Digitalization has never been more important, as the pandemic showed us. Thanks to our investments in digital infrastructure, Azelis maintained 100% performance in terms of delivering our orders and driving seamless business continuity. Over the last year, we stayed closely in touch with our with customers and suppliers, organizing over 200 webinars to ensure stakeholder engagement continued even without face-to-face meetings.
Finally, sustainability has always been a cornerstone of our corporate strategy. We joined TfS (Together for Sustainability) and committed ourselves to the principles of sustainable procurement. In the last two years, EcoVadis awarded us the gold standard for sustainability.
How is digitalization fitting in with the company’s strategy?
The right digital infrastructure for communications and remote work is only the first layer of our digital strategy; in 2019, we kick-started our global digitalization program, with a plan to launch a digital platform for our customers. This digital platform has now been launched in various countries, with India being the first in APAC to see the portal go live. By the end of this year, it will be available to a large panel of market segments across APAC.
Customers can access the portal to view information about product details and documentation, formulations, market trends, or to request sample quotas and place orders. In the near future, we are also launching the e-Lab, an e-technical support platform. We found this was a necessary innovation to diversify our access to the market and create another touchpoint with stakeholders.
What is your message for our audience regarding Singapore’s role in the region?
Back in 2016, when we were assessing our strategy in Asia, Singapore stood out as the obvious choice as a regional HQ for many reasons, starting with its ideal geographic location with access to all of APAC, to the very dynamic and business-friendly environment. Moreover, Singapore attracts and retains a high-quality talent pool, which was also an important factor for our innovation ambitions. We are now developing Singapore as a financial and logistics hub for all activities in the region, and we will keep investing in the city in the coming years.