Consolidating while keeping momentum
Interview with Frederic Desdouits, Managing Director CDMO at SEQENS
Q: Frederic Desdouits, Managing Director at Seqens CDMO, tells us more about the strategy behind the group’s recent consolidation and its achievements so far.
Earlier this year, the new contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) entity Seqens was formed, combining subsidiaries Novacap, PCISynthesis, PCAS, ChemieUetikon and Proteus under one new banner. As the rebranding rolled out across the group’s 24 manufacturing plants and three R&D centres in Europe, North America and Asia, the move positioned Seqens as an integrated global leader in pharmaceutical synthesis and specialty ingredients. We spoke to Frederic Desdouits, Managing Director CDMO at Seqens, to find out more about the strategy behind this consolidation, and the group’s achievements so far.
Q: What was the rationale behind the consolidation and re-branding?
We acquired a series of well-known and respected CDMOs: Chemie Uetikon in 2015, PCAS in 2017 and PCI Synthesis in 2018. This strategic move was to create a network of high-quality service companies competing with one another in a very fragmented market. Our aim has been to merge the capabilities and competencies of those groups into one unique offering. It was then natural to rebrand it under one name, SeqensCDMO.
Q: So was the intention to build an integrated company by combining several specialists?
We certainly don’t see being more global and remaining specialized as mutually exclusive. With our current network, we have a global reach with R&D facilities, and GMP and preGMP production sites, in Europe and USA. We can offer our clients a back-integration strategy by internally producing preGMP intermediates and we can also offer two sites to produce their assets and, hence, provide a back-up strategy. At the same time on the specialization front, we keep on investing in our existing technologies, as well as new technologies and differentiating features.
Q: How do you maintain consistent quality and service across 24 plants across the world?
Seqens is organized by independent Business Units supported by strong corporate functions.The quality system is managed through a global organization under the control of our Quality Director, who reports to our CEO. All our on-site quality organizations directly reporting to this global organization, and indirectly to the Business Unit organization. Thus, we have a global critical mass in quality at the group level. Services are provided by the Business Units where the commercial, R&D and project management teams are located. At the Business Unit level, we are fully empowered to run our business and decide on how to best serve our clients. Obviously, we also interact between Business Units to better serve clients who work with different Seqens Business Units.
Q: Do you see your individual facilities collaborating more, now that they share a common identity?
Renaming the company and having everyone working under the same brand clearly created a new atmosphere. Seqens made eleven acquisitions in 7 years, and recently acquired PCAS which itself was built through a series of acquisitions. The time was right to create a different momentum and to show the teams we are all playing with the same shirt. The impact is currently more visible in the support functions and the management teams than in the manufacturing sites, which have less trans-facilities activities. Nonetheless. we recently engaged in several initiatives to share best practices between CDMO sites.
Q: Looking back over the past year, what is the group’s greatest achievement so far, in your view?
We were able to keep the momentum going while asking teams to change their habits and work together, which often means putting aside personal egos! Overall, we had very good feedback from our internal teams, and a recent client survey shown us than clients also understand our move and strategy. The CDMO Business Unit was set up in April 2018, so this level of internal and external recognition in just over a year is a great achievement.
Q: Thinking about the consolidation process, is there anything that you would have done differently, if you had the time again?
Go faster! (If possible.)
Q: What’s next for SEQENS?
Next, we will be accelerating our development in the main three geographic zones (Europe, USA and Asia). The market is extremely competitive, and we need to remain at the best level of service. To this end, we have reorganized our salesforce team and we are reinforcing our project management processes and team. I believe we are showing good skills in consolidating CDMO players with very different histories and models. This could become attractive to small players willing to gain scale and critical mass without losing their critical features and culture.