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Solvay restructures business around simplicity and sustainability

By Simon Pitman , 18-Jan-2013

Fine chemicals player Solvay has completely restructured its business, including its processes and corporate functions in an attempt to create a more streamlined operation.

The company said the restructuring aims to simplify and decentralise its management structure to create a more agile business, while also positioning it to better take advantage of new market opportunities.

On top of this, the new approach also aims to sharpen customer focus, as well as enhancing corporate social responsibility and innovation on sustainable chemistry – the latter two areas being of vital importance to players in the chemical category who are keen to be seen as green and environmentally friendly.

Building on growth since Rhodia acquisition

Belgium-based Solvay has grown significantly in recent years, mainly fuelled by the acquisition of Rhodia, which it bought for €3.4 billion in September 2011 and is expected to contribute to total group sales of more than €13bn in 2012.

The acquisition also bought considerable personal care operations to the business, specifically its Novecare division which specialises in high performance cosmetic ingredients, together with its Aroma Performance division.

“Through the mobilization of our teams, we have managed to convert the two former companies into one of the ten largest chemical companies worldwide,” said Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, chairman of the company's executive committee.

Five new business units

The restructuring will see Solvay divided up into five principles business units, with almost all units touching on some aspect of the personal care industry, whether it be formulation or packaging.

These are the new divisions:

  • Consumer Chemicals
  • Advanced Materials
  • Performance Chemicals
  • Functional Polymers
  • Corporate Business and Services

The most significant division will for the personal care industry will be the consumer chemicals unit, where the company is particularly well positioned as one of the world’s biggest providers of specialty polymers.