According to their own account Bio Laboratories is the largest provider of cosmetic, wellness and healthcare products on the British promotional products market. A wide assortment of creative ideas, a well thought out logistics concept, strict observance of cosmetic guidelines and a strict “no” to animal experiments are the pillars of their corporate philosophy.
“Cosmetic products are a matter of trust – they quite literally get under your skin,” explained Ian Webb, founder and CEO of Bio Laboratories. “That is why we insist on the highest quality.” Webb has the best possible control over the latter, because the majority of Bio Laboratories’ product range is “made in theUK”. Hence, the company is a further example that there are definitely still promotional products suppliers on the island, who can produce goods at competitive prices. The prerequisites: An efficient network of suppliers and service providers, high flexibility and last but not least a lot of creative own performance.
Bio Laboratories emerged from a large Medical company called Transform Medical Group: “We were founded as a subsidiary of the group in 1999 to produce skin care products, selling them to existing Transform customers,” recalled Webb. “Then, in 2001 we changed our business plan, from then on we sold cosmetic products to the promotional products market. When the Transform Medical Group decided to sell the subsidiary in 2002, I purchased the company together with my partner Lorraine Rowland and reopened it as Bio Laboratories. We had three employees in the first year and with a turnover of 800,000 Pounds – which is approx. 1 mil. Euros.”
Today, the company has an annual turnover of 2.3 mil. Pounds (approx. 2.9 ml. Euros) and is allegedly the largest provider ofUKmade cosmetics, wellness and healthcare products on the British promotional products market.
The company was and still is located in Timperley, in the EnglishcountyofCheshire, not far fromManchester. Seven employees coordinate the sales and logistics, a graphics department develops designs in line with the customer’s requirements and also creates bespoke labels and packaging
Bio Laboratories’ portfolio currently encompasses around 300 products – from creams, shampoos and shower gels, to perfumes, soaps and wellness items, through to disinfection and oral hygiene products. Matching accessories such as massage devices, nail clippers and toothbrushes round off the collection. Bio Laboratories also has strong commercial cooperation with the Cologne-based company KHK and a Turkish manufacturer of cosmetic tissues and supplies several retail brands exclusively to the promotional products market.
Top priority: Product safety
The raw materials for the products are provided by a number of chemical companies based inEngland. Product safety is the top priority here – Ian Webb: “Defective products can have immediate consequences on the user’s health, which in turn has an irreparable damaging effect on promoting the company’s and it’s clients image. We not only guarantee that all of our products are REACH-compliant but that they also comply with all EU cosmetic guidelines, but often also go a step further – for instance the quality of our disinfection gels matches that of the products used in hospitals.“ A further essential point is ethical responsibility – whereas in the case of other product categories this might include child labour, in the cosmetics sector it implies animal experiments: “We guarantee that we have never tested the ingredients or finished products on animals,” stated Webb. “We demand the guarantee from our suppliers that all raw materials and preparations we implement have not been tested on animals after 1994. This fixed cut-off date (FCOD) is the standard guideline against animal experiments that is approved by international organisations.”
The products are mixed, filled into containers and packed in a filling plant in Barnsley/Yorkshire, just over an hour’s drive away through the idyllicPeakDistrictNational Park. The factory that is run by a partner company is Bio Laboratories’ most important logistical cornerstone. The tasks of the sixteen employees include mixing and scenting the substances and then filling them into the jars, tubes, bottles or flacons. The close collaboration between the contractor and the filling plant ensures Bio Laboratories the greatest possible room for manoeuvre regarding special requests and special designs. “We can dye creams or lip care products in all sorts of colours or on request even manufacture toothpaste,” explained Webb. “Furthermore, we can supply up to 400 different scents.”
The company also offers its customers a large variety of packaging options – for instance products can be filled into special packaging on request or combined to make up gift hampers. The full-colour digital printer that was recently purchased not only offers almost limitless possibilities regarding the designing of labels, but particularly enables the fast delivery of samples and small order volumes.
“Short delivery times are absolutely essential,” reported Ian Webb. “We generally deliver within between five and eight working days depending on the size of the order. Large stocks contribute greatly towards such short lead-times: We constantly maintain stocks to the value of 600,000 Pounds (approx. 770,000 Euros) and the warehouse covers 80,000 sq ft in total (approx. 7,400 m²).”
Bio Laboratories currently supplies approx. 900 existing customers inGreat BritainandEurope, whereby they exclusively sell to the promotional products trade. The company is a member of thePSI(Promotional Products Service Institute) and the BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association). Bio Laboratories additionally cooperates with the British industry service providers Trade Only andSourcingCity. The British company intends to gradually extend its export business: “At the moment our exports account for 25% of our promotional sales, two years ago (before thePSIshows) exports accounted for only 6%”, said Webb. The company has a sales representative inFranceand according to Webb further strong markets includeScandinavia,Spain,Portugaland Deutschland.
“In 2013 we will be represented at thePSIShow in Düsseldorf again, this time with our own exhibition stand,” announced Webb.
2013 will bring several new challenges with it for Bio Laboratories: “Next year a new EU guideline comes into force. The product safety and labelling requirements will become even stricter with new product testing costing around 1,000 Pounds (approx. 1,300 Euros) a product but will become necessary in order to sell products to the European community.” A task that the Brits will no doubt master with ease.