Nearly 70 years of history, 4 production plants in Italy, a revenue of 60 million euros and 390 employees. This is Pibiplast by the numbers, the company based in Correggio (RE) that produces plastic primary packaging for cosmetics and make-up.
A company set on growth and development that, in 2018, saw the opening of a new chapter in its history as the doors were opened to 2 investor groups.
With a well-established presence in Italy and abroad, Pibiplast stands out for its dedication to innovation, continuous improvement, and highly-personalized services.
This translates into the identification of the needs of each client and the offering of advanced solutions, always staying ahead of the times and anticipating new market trends.
Together with Stefania Bosi, Global Sales & Marketing Director and Fabian Piaggio, CEO, we retraced the important milestones in Pibiplast’s history. Starting from 1954, we arrive to the present day and to the future that awaits the company, one with many projects and new challenges.
Can you tell us something about the history and evolution of Pibiplast?
Stefania Bosi, Global Sales & Marketing Director:
Pibiplast was founded in 1954 by my grandfather, Paolo Bosi. It started as a manufacturer for pharmaceutical packaging and products but in the 70s, made a shift to the cosmetic market.
Initially, it focused on the world of body and skincare. In 2002, it increased its range of products following the acquisition of Bomal, a small company specialized in the manufacturing of make-up components (mascara, lipgloss, eyeliner…).
There would be another 2 acquisitions after Bomal. In 2013, the company purchased a company that made tubes and capsules in plastic while in 2014, it purchased Plast Line, a company that specialized in bottles for mass production and that had immense know-how in extrusion blow moulding. These two operations allowed us to expand our product range and reach new customers.
It was in these same years that mascara and lipgloss, once a prerogative of Bormal, became the core of Pibiplast. It’s here that the company decided to invest in its own manufacturing lines for brushes, internalizing the processes that had previously been contracted out to third parties.
It was a step in the right direction that proved to be the winning one. Today make-up makes up 50% of the company’s global revenue while the rest is generated by body and skincare products.
In 2018, a new chapter in Pibiplast’s story began: two investors were brought on board, LCatterton and Ambienta SGR. What pushed you towards this choice? Is it true that your father, Giorgio Bosi, was one of the most fervent supporters of the move?
Yes, it’s true. My father, Pibiplast’s deus ex machina, understood that it was the moment to adapt to the times that were changing and from there, the decision to bring in Private Equity in the form of LCatterton SGR and Ambienta SGR came about so that Pibiplast could even further solidify its organizational and industrial structure.
The new partners immediately embraced the spirit of Pibiplast and their entry was important for the company’s growth path and strategy. On one side there’s Ambienta with an industrial approach centered on environmental aspects, on the other there’s LCatterton with its leadership position in consumer goods industry and an important commercial network in the world of cosmetics.
In this experience, my father showed once again just what an extremely courageous man he is: despite never showing it, surely for him it had to have been difficult to hand over the reins of company but he did it with an outlook that was always towards the future and towards development.
After an initial transitional period, in May 2019, the CFO, Luca Laudicina and the CEO, Fabian Piaggio made their official entrance. The handover between him and my father, who still has a minority stake in the company, was immediate, simple, and more natural than I could have ever imagined. He’s always believed that team work is fundamental for growth and the way in which he has formed a relationship with the new members of the company is evidence of this belief put into practice.
Is it true that the introduction of investors in Pibiplast turned out to be an extremely natural process, almost symbiotic in nature with the original DNA of the company?
Fabian Piaggio, CEO: Very true and I can say that, according to my experience, finding such a great fit immediately doesn’t happen very often.
In Pibiplast’s case, not only was the founder the “sponsor” but he was also the first and most fervent promotor of this change based mainly on a stronger structuring of the company’s “hard and soft” processes. It’s an evolution that involves behaviors, relationships, attitudes, skill and knowledge but also the processes, the technology, the machines…
We really wanted to maintain the foundation that Giorgo Bosi built for Pibiplast and it is characterized by two elements: on one side, trying to enhance the company’s skills and knowledge in terms of technology, manufacturing techniques, and training processes because this is the true know-how of the company; while the other fundamental aspect is surely that of having made human relationships a distinctive feature of the company.
Pibiplast is known as a company that has made empathy, human relations, and attention to social matters one of its strengths, a distinctive trait towards both stakeholders and employees.
In what way has the entrance of funds into the corporate structure changed the organization and strategy of the company?
Fabian Piaggio: The funds have given way to a profound change but at the same time, one that was eased into.
Between the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020, three managers in three key areas of the company came on board – Operations, Supply Chain, Management Control – and this happened without any major jolts or upheavals. Insertion of these roles happened in a gradual and spontaneous manner with perfect integration of past, present, and future.
At the moment we are working very hard on the strengthening of some key fundamentals to guarantee reliability of processes, product quality, and customer service with the logical aim of continual improvement.
Our job is also to rationalize the industrial structure to make it so that there’s a balance and perfect integration among the production sites, skills and knowledge, and roles and that the various processes, including new ones wanted to internalize technological capabilities, become part of the company’s DNA. The objective is that everyone moves at the same speed and this means investing in technology, skills, and knowledge.
Moreover, investments in technology and development have always been one of Pibiplast’s focal points: over the last 5 years, the company has invested around 15% of its revenue in technology when the market average is between 5-7%.
Then there’s the relationships with clients and commercial development where Pibiplast is making great strides by increasing product ranges and developing the theme of sustainability even further. A series of organic and recycled materials are being developed because sustainability is an integral part of the company’s DNA and it is what is being asked of the market more and more.
Speaking about sustainability, is it true that Pibiplast was already a green company in the 1980s?
Stefania Bosi: Maybe saying green is a bit of an exaggeration…but let’s say that sustainability has always been a theme close to its heart and we were truly one of the pioneers. Pibiplast, in fact, was one of the first companies in Europe to introduce PET into cosmetic packaging which it did at the end of the 80s. At the time, it had only been used in the food industry.
One of the goals that you’ve set for yourselves is growth. What roads will you follow to reach this goal?
Fabian Piaggio: We will continue on the one we’re on: we plan on following an organic growth path, but also an inorganic one. Nowadays, the market is global with important local suppliers and we are working in this direction: to pursue structural growth product-wise and geographically-speaking.
This means increasing our range and completing it with products that are not yet in our catalogue and then orienting ourselves towards new markets. Not only. Big brand politics are moving towards regionalization and as a consequence, so are we. We are now qualified suppliers for Europe but the goal is to become their partner in new markets as well.
What is your competitive advantage?
Stefania Bosi: Technology and service, in terms of speed in responding and a wide range of offerings.
Faced with a market with needs that are continually more elevated, having all the technology necessary to produce a product internally allows us to significantly accelerate development timelines and innovation- all with a high level of confidentiality for the customer.
How did the market react with the introduction of funds into Pibiplast?
Stefania Bosi: Very well. The market was ready and aware with regards to this evolution that started in the cosmetic world some years ago and is currently in progress. I have to say that, upon seeing Pibiplast’s ambition in working more and more with prestige customers and big international groups, the entry of funds didn’t do anything except reinforce relationships with these big players and confirmed our desire to evolve and increasingly be a reference point for cosmetic packaging.
Fabian Piaggio: Furthermore, in the cosmetic market, a process of consolidation has been underway for some time: this can be seen in the world of brands, but also among formulation and packaging companies.
Market concentration is a functional process to occupy spaces on the market that require a very structured approach, it allows the offering of more products, more services and an international dimension to be reached. The scale synergies that can be obtained, the ability to have an organization keeping up with the times, and the appeal that comes directly from the sheer size of a large group are essential and strategic elements in Pibiplast’s vision.
Hence, it should not come as a prize that the company has decided to follow this path: it’s simply our solution to evolve and to growth. I’m convinced that, also for third party cosmetics, the future and all the big opportunities will be increasingly more a prerogative of big groups and more and more, size will be a factor in choosing.
All of this without ever losing the identity that has made Pibiplast a leading player in the world of cosmetics packaging.