THE COLOR OF MONEY

Colombia 2016 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Diana Pabón Morales, General Manager of Quimica Cosmos, on the factors behind the company's growth in 2015, upcoming projects, and why Colombia remains an attractive destination for investors.

Diana Pabón Morales
BIOGRAPHY
Diana Pabón Morales is General Manager of Quimica Cosmos. The company is ranked number two in architectural paints in Colombia. She has been with the company since 2000, working in areas such as purchasing and logistics, quality management systems and later transitioned into purchasing manager, allowing her to become an expert in international business and strategic negotiations.

How was 2015 for Quimica Cosmos?

We entered the year as a more consolidated brand in the market, taking second place in terms of market share, only behind Pintuco. We reached our sales budget and ended with 12% YoY growth. This growth was above the GDP and 5% higher than our growth in 2014. Overall, we further consolidated our brand in the second position in the architectural paints market and it was a positive year for Quimica Cosmos.

What factors drove your growth in 2015?

We expanded activities in our architecture product line; we grew business coverage with our traditional products reaching the entire country, even to areas where other companies are not present. We also boosted innovation and new technologies in the launch of new products; last year we launched a product with three different features within water-based paints: antibacterial paint, low odor, and low VOC gas emission. Finally, we implemented an expansion in terms of infrastructure and production, increasing production capacity by 50% in the architectural paints segment with new machinery with the vision of being able to serve the market's future needs.

How do oil price trends impact your business?

The country's economy is susceptible to changes in oil prices, and current trends triggered a devaluation of the Colombian peso. This had an impact on imports because we import 70% of our raw material for the production of paints. Another element that had certain impact on our activities is the fact that oil derivate products did not have the same impact in price as oil price had globally. We expected a fall in price of oil derivate products that did not happen.

Does the company export any of its products?

Currently, we do not export, despite having a consolidated position in the national market. We see plenty of room to grow our current 12% market share in Colombia, getting closer to Pintuco (50%). We see export of products as the next natural step in the next few years. We would most likely look at Central America.

What makes Colombia an attractive destination for foreign investors?

Colombia has always been an interesting market for investors. Attracting investment in dollars is key for the development of the country and since the devaluation of the peso in 2015, profitability for investors, especially for those who produce locally with local raw materials, has increased. It is a great moment for investors to come to Colombia. There are other factors such as the peace process, the social and economic development, and higher standards in terms of transparency and accountancy, which brings higher security levels for investors.

What are your expectations for the development of the paint sector?

There are plenty of challenges ahead due to the devaluation of the peso. We have seen an increase in prices and this is the main concern for Colombian families. Therefore, products such as ours are not a priority. However, we see an increasing movement in the region and small to medium cities in terms of infrastructure such as shopping malls, which presents a great opportunity for us. Also, the government has launched two housing programs targeting middle and low-income families to whom they provide support. We see government support to further boost the construction sector. We also invest in new technologies and innovation to develop new products demanded by the market as well as environmentally friendly products. We have two laboratories: one monitoring quality and another developing new products. For new products, we can either do internal testing or alternatively our suppliers can support us on the development of new products with their products. We already invest heavily in the environment; for example, we treat rainwater to use it in the production of our paints. We also have a residual and industrial water treatment plant and are monitored by the main national agencies. We also manage chemical waste through partnerships with a third party to comply with national regulations.