Lablabo is a name that has become synonymous in the packaging industry with upscale, bespoke packaging design and production. We caught up with Florent Fumey, head of Sales and Marketing at Lablabo, and asked him all about the custom packaging sector and what it takes to remain a market leader in the space, especially when it comes to airless packaging.
Florent, what exactly do you do at the company?
I joined Lablabo in the fall of 2016 as the Head of Sales & Marketing. My mission here is to develop Lablabo’s business both in terms of volumes and number of clients, and to raise a greater awareness around our products and around the airless pouch system in general. To that end, I can rely on a sales team of 4 persons with complementary skills. I also oversee every effort Lablabo makes in terms of marketing or communication. Last, but definitely not least, I am also directly in charge of taking the best possible care of our largest accounts.
You've referred to Lablabo as "unique". Why?
It's a very bold claim, but the truth is that in terms of performance, we manufacture the finest airless pouch system on the market today. We run countless tests on our products to provide the absolute finest results. In tests by an independent laboratory, it has been shown that the long-term airtightness of our airless products is the most efficient on the market and formula protection is outstanding.
What are other noteworthy features?
The core engine of our pumps makes it very easy to deliver extremely consistent and accurate doses of a wide range of products. That way, we can ensure that the patient or consumer will receive the exact precise dose of the product that is needed.
This is exceedingly important with regard to products in the pharmaceutical industry where dosing accuracy related to a treatment is critical, and this is a very important added value of our product. Considering that treatment can last a long time, you want to make sure the patient gets the same dose each and every time. It may be seen as less critical for personal care or beauty products, but we feel that dispensing the right dose in the appropriate way is important to ensure correct results. When using Lablabo’s airless products, you will always deliver the dose that you are meant to.
In airless dispensing, the restitution rate is also important, correct?
Absolutely. No matter if you are using our polyethylene or aluminum EasyFoil® pouch, the restitution rate is around 95%. This is on the higher side of what our competitors can offer in terms of restitution, but it demonstrates that offering superior metering capabilty does not sacrifice restitution, which is very important to the overall user experience.
Another important benefit of Lablabo’s products is the sheer power of its dosing system. Having a powerful dosing mechanism means that clients can elaborate just about any formulation they have in terms of viscosity and that our pumps will accurately dispense it. Some of our customers use Lablabo products simply due to their ability to dispense very thick product. When it comes to skincare, for example, moisturizing creams are usually quite thick but the strength of our pumps can overcome the problems usually caused by high viscosity. - Rule of thumb is that we can dispense almost anything, from water to clay!
Apart from airless products, what else is Lablabo developing?
We have a strong R&D department that's always coming up with improvements to existing products as well as developing totally new concepts. Most of the time, we are keen on accompanying specific client developments and offer a creative and performing technical development.
Many existing or new customers come to us with specific ideas on how to handle a given problem and we work with them around the development of the most effective and elegant dispensing solution to address their precise needs. To that extent, we've just developed a bespoke solution for a major customer but I am sure you will understand I cannot disclose further details about it until it hits the shelves.
You don’t create new standard products?
As I explained, we tend to back developments with existing projects with our clients. Nevertheless, we also develop our own products. We create everything in house and bring it up to the stage where it just needs the appropriate demand to trigger the proper industrialization of the product.
Seeing our developments meet market demand and come to life through the satisfaction of our customer’s requirements is exactly what we strive for. Whenever it is needed, we can also share the intellectual property of some of our developments, with part of a product being exclusively reserved for the sole use of one client, while the rest of the solution can be a little more widespread. Basically, many different things are possible, and we can offer tailored solutions to our clients with the agility and reactivity one can expect from a reputable company such as Lablabo.
What brands are currently using your products?
That's a sensitive question as some of our systems are currently being used for products that have not been publicly released yet. Overall, we are proud to say that we work with the majority of the most prestigious names in the cosmetic industry worldwide, with a strong emphasis on low preservatives and sensitive formulas.
When it comes to the Pharma industry, let’s say that 6 out of the 10 largest companies in the world are using our products, especially for topical products that require a precise dosage, such as transdermal hormones, for example.
In what markets do you operate?
We are based in the French Alps, very close to Geneva, on the Swiss border. About 90% of our business comes from abroad. Our biggest customers are in Europe and North America. More specifically, most of our clients are in the UK, Belgium, the USA, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain. We also have some customers in Japan and India. Really, we're open to developing projects anywhere around the world!
With regard to sectors, I would say that we are split between large consumer sectors. Most of our business, about 55%, is in the pharmaceutical space. Another 44% is done with the cosmetic industry and the remaining 1% for miscellaneous sectors, such as veterinary, food, etc.
All of our operations are conducted from our headquarters in France, as Lablabo is a single plant company. In early 2013, we moved into an entirely new building that we had built specifically so that we could accommodate everybody under one roof. All our production space has been designed to operate in a single 1200sqm ISO8/Class D clean room so that we can ensure our clients a very high level of quality. Our premises comply with the current GMP requirements and we have been certified according to ISO 9001 and ISO 15378 standards, which are for general quality and for quality in primary packaging for the pharmaceutical industry.
In addition, we obtained the ISO13485 certification in 2014 so that we can comply with the stringent regulations around the manufacturing of medical devices or combination products. Our solid Quality Management System makes us able to satisfy the most demanding requirements and enables to sell our products with an excellent level of quality worldwide.
What about client supply chains?
20 years ago, it could have been seen as a bold move from an international US-based pharma company to buy primary packaging from a small French company located somewhere in the Alps. Today, our local presence at trade shows around the world and our completely English-speaking sales team actually make it quite easy to do business with Lablabo.
As I explained before, the technical performance of our products has convinced many clients to cross our borders. With all the operations being performed at a single location, the whole purchasing process is made as easy as possible for the client, and most of the time they will have just one single contact person.
We also have a seasoned English-speaking quality team that can help clients to get the most of their visit should they decide to perform an on-site audit.
We aim to give a tailored purchasing experience to all of our clients so that our best efforts will exceed their expectations. To that extent, the added value of our products combined with their excellent level of performance helps a lot.
Can we see Lablabo's products at any upcoming shows?
We exhibited at CPhI in Philadelphia, Luxe Pack in New York and Cosmetic Business in Munich earlier this year. It is always a great pleasure to see that companies we have not yet worked with show a genuine interest in our product. Trade shows are also a good time to catch up with existing clients and discuss potential new projects.
We will continue to exhibit at several tradeshows each year, and the next one will be CPhI in Frankfurt this fall. For 2018, we expect to be present at PharmaPack in France as well as CPhI in Europe and the USA.
Visitors will be able to see many examples of our current successful projects and will of course be more than welcome to discuss with our representatives about any upcoming projects or packaging needs they may have!