In July 2021 Pulcra Chemicals made the first acquisition in its history and took over the supplier of specialty chemicals Devan Chemicals NV, Ronse/Belgium, owned by the private equity fund Pentahold NV, Sint-Martens-Latem/Belgium.
Congratulations of your takeover of Devan. Could you briefly tell us about the joint company philosophy of Pulcra and Devan?
Thank you! Pulcra and Devan are very different and yet have so much in common. When the opportunity arose to acquire Devan it was not much of a difficult decision for us. Apart from all technical aspects one has to assess during an acquisition, such as product portfolio, synergy potential, etc. the most important aspect is the people you are going to work with. On both ends from the very first minute we had the right understanding and a very positive mutual chemical fit on a human level. I am convinced that this will be one of the strongest pillars on which we want to continue building our success story.
Will there still be 2 independent companies? What synergies do you want to exploit?
Devan was not acquired with the aim to force it under the existing corporate structure of Pulcra. We aim for a soft integration that will create value. We will not rush things with a short-sighted approach, e.g. like a private equity firm would do. We want the best of both worlds to prevail and have already started to materialize on various synergistic aspects. To give you an example: Devan HQ is situated in Ronse, Belgium. Additional offices with specializations exist in the UK, Portugal, the USA and China. Pulcra instead has offices in 13 different locations around the world and was not present with its own local affiliates in Belgium, the UK and Portugal. Apart from various operational aspects, both organizations will benefit from each other in terms of complementary set-up’s and know how transfer. As a result, the value of combining both organizations is already now greater than the sum of its individual parts.
Are there any other company acquisitions planned?
We are open to and constantly assessing other inorganic growth opportunities, but our main focus is and will remain to grow organically. Devan was a perfect match for Pulcra, and Pulcra was a perfect match for Devan.
The textile industry is in a constant state of flux. In your opinion, what are the most important megatrends at the moment?
ESG (environmental, social, and governance criteria) and sustainability! Our customers, the end-users and we as consumers eventually are much better informed and more aware of certain ecological and sustainability matters than ever before. The selection and decision criteria to acquire Devan was influenced by our desire to enlarge our product portfolio and solutions for eco-friendly and safe chemistry based on natural and renewable raw materials. ESG and sustainability will further gain in importance, and it is our responsibility to actively promote safer, ecological and more environmentally friendly solutions.What are the main issues arising from the takeover?
Bringing 2 cultures together and aligning on 1 common purpose is never easy. At the same time, it is a unique opportunity for our organization to create value for our stakeholders, employees and more importantly for our planet. Synchronizing all our efforts under one umbrella and focusing our energy towards the most impactful topics will be a challenge. As mentioned above, the extremely positive people chemistry that exists already since the first minute we got together, will help us to prioritize on the right subjects.What are be the biggest challenges for the textile industry after the corona pandemic?
There are many. I will share my top 3 here only:
1. Normalization on all operational aspects such as logistics, product and raw material availability, raw material prices, etc. The pandemic has disrupted too many things at the same time. Supply and demand have still have not matched to find a new equilibrium.
2. Geographical shifts in demand add complexity. Triggered by geopolitical tensions, unreliable supply and insufficiently coordinated pandemic related countermeasures from country to country. There are still too many nations with very low vaccination rates or new Covid-19 variants.
3. Regulations. Coping with growing regulations will not get less nor easier. Personally, I do support meaningful regulatory measures. They can protect in terms of ESG or help on the exponentially growing sustainability front.
Things have been disrupted and despite the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic is a finite thing, there is still a lot of uncertainty in our industry. Eventually those who will be able to cope best with above-mentioned challenges in an agile way will be rewarded in the long run. I am proud to see how we at Pulcra tackle all those challenges with our 1,000 colleagues everywhere around the world.
The interview was conducted by Mechthild Maas, editor of TextileTechnology, with Ümit Yaldiz, CEO of Pulcra Chemicals Group, Geretsried/Germany.