BOX POPULI

Turkey 2020 | INDUSTRY | INTERVIEW

Bell Holding operates companies that produce packaging of all varieties, and it is looking to expand to larger facilities and markets.

Livio Manzini
BIOGRAPHY

Livio Manzini has been the Chairman and CEO of Bell Holding since 1993. He is also the chairman of REED Specialist Recruitment, a joint venture with REED Global in the UK. He is president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Manzini is currently a member of TÜSİAD, where he holds the presidency of the French Network; Rotary, and YPO. He graduated from École des Hautes Études Commerciales in Paris. Born in Istanbul, he is fluent in Italian, French, English and Turkish.

How have Bell's operations changed over the years, and where have you had the most success?
As of today, Bell Holding is mostly a consumer packaging group. The holding controls seven operating companies, which are based on state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, high product quality, and service. We produce plastic packaging and aluminum packaging materials. In terms of plastic packaging, we produce items such as bottles, caps and closures, as well as IML tubs and lids; our aluminum products line largely comprises collapsible tubes and aerosol cans. At the end of the day, what drives our business are the industries we service. We produce the packaging that brand owners turn into consumer products. The sectors we service are mostly FMCGs, personal care, home care, pharmaceuticals, food, and industry. We try to establish long-term relationships with our customers, because most of our production is tailor-made, premium packaging material. The companies we work with are mostly blue-chip companies, both multinational and local, which is obviously a good place to be. They value not only our operational excellence but our business agility, entrepreneurial ability and breadth of packaging formats to deliver packaging solutions in a fairly volatile and growing regional market.

What aspects of Turkey's economy and demographics drive Bell's business?
The fundamentals of Turkey are positive, in particular for a company like ours. The economy is structured to support export activities and has clearly had significant investment in improving infrastructure. In recent years, Turkey has been experiencing high urbanization and birth rates.

In which of your four main product segments—personal care, home care, pharmaceuticals, and food—are you seeing the most revenue growth?
Since the EU-Turkey Customs Union went into effect, there has been significant growth in imported products as well as the development of larger factories to service a wider geography. There have, of course, been winners and losers but, overall, this treaty has greatly boosted trade and consumer choice. While the effects have shifted over time, the one sector that has been the most resilient is food. That is certainly a sector that has seen growth for us. The sector requires a certain number of additional safety measures. There are some non-tariff barriers to import, such as tastes, which change from country to country. Apart from that, all of our segments have developed considerably, but not always for the same reasons. Looking at pharmaceuticals, for example, 20 years ago the state was covering only half of the population's needs. Now the entire population is covered. That has given a boost to the domestic pharma sector. If there is one sector that is underdeveloped, it is cosmetics. In Turkey, cosmetics consumption is still low, and many products are still being imported. It is an area that we are not necessarily geared to service, but the sector needs to grow.

What are your objectives and investment plans for the medium term?
Our plans are usually set over a four-year period. We have been unlucky with a volatile lira, but we consider this to be short-term. It does not necessarily affect our long-term plans. We have a big investment project where we are set to start building a new factory in Turkey. Most of our tube and aerosol can production takes place in central Istanbul. That is not sustainable because we have reached the physical limit of growth. Therefore, we bought an 80,000sqm plot of land in Thrace where we will build a 40,000-sqm factory and gradually move all this production, while at the same time increasing capacity. Strategically speaking, we are developing our regional production footprint, looking at opportunities to either partner with other players or set up in the EU and other countries.