Jean Blottière, CFA: “I am proud of how our French aerosol experts have responded”
ADF&PCD and PLD talks exclusively to Jean Blottière, delegate-general of the Comité Francais des Aérosols, about the French aerosol sector’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, the importance of local supply chains and the pleasures of a simple sandwich.
How has the CFA and the aerosol sector more broadly responded to the coronavirus crisis?
First of all and more importantly CFA kept near its members and staff from the beginning of the crisis. The safety of men and women working for this industry has been and is the main concern. I have communicated constantly from the beginning of the crisis to let members know that our thoughts were with their staff, their managements and their families.
CFA has closed its Paris office and the three permanent staff started home working from the start of the confinement. The main task has been and is still to respond to our members’ needs for information. There is a huge level of information popping out from all sort of channels. I am trying to select what is relevant to our members, whatever their size. I tend to prioritise information, such as HR, tax, business support, etc… for medium and small size businesses where there is no specific department able to digest all that information.
The aerosol sector is working hard during the crisis. Some actors who were already involved with sanitary products have worked flat out to produce as much as possible and some from other type of products have switched to what was needed most, meaning disinfectants, cleaning products and hydro-alcoholic products. The complete chain has worked towards that primary demand – component suppliers, fillers, brand owners and logistics.
What do you see as the key challenges for the sector during the crisis?
Running operations while supply is not fully operational is a challenge, but while missing staff is another one. Of course, for brand owners who traditionally sell products into regions under lockdown, the economic challenge is huge. The uncertainty of the “after crisis” is certainly a very important issue.
The current crisis will end. What role do you see for the aerosol sector in the recovery?
Aerosol segments in terms of applications are numerous. Personal care will remain important for consumers – more than before the crisis, I believe. The pharmaceutical and para-pharmaceutical sector will be vital in providing easy -to-use and good value solutions. But of course applications for home care with segments such as air fresheners and cleaning products will be needed.
Finally the industry will need tools to restart in full. Therefore I expect industrial and technical applications to be needed.
From a business perspective, what do you think are the key lessons to learn from the coronavirus crisis?
At my small level I see that having a national industrial expertise and suppliers is key in the continuation of business and also in the quick and efficient restart, such as the one expected after this crisis. Having local suppliers reducing the supply chain has proved to be key.
What lasting changes, if any, do you see for packaging supply chains generally, and the aerosol sector specifically?
The French aerosol industry is made up of experts. Experts are needed in time of crisis or “war” as our president, Mr Macron, has called it. I am proud to say that our experts in France have responded. I see that companies will capitalise on the knowledge gained during the crisis. Reducing supply chain, selecting good suppliers, training staff to multi-task and work on succession plans will be fields of improvement in my opinion.
What are you most looking forward to when the current lockdown ends?
Opening my office door and planning my first face-to-face working group or committee… Although we serve sandwiches during these working groups, the first one will be like being at La Tour d’Argent! And of course I am looking forward to resuming normal industry association working life, meet members and members-to-be and so on.
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Jean Blottière: “The French aerosol industry is made up of experts… I am proud to say that our experts in France have responded.”