News Industry Profile Beaphar



Industry Profile: Beaphar
12th September 2017

By Sandra Pearce

If there is one constant about Beaphar it’s that something is always happening, says Sue Huggett, who talks to pbwnews about the company’s milestone moments and the challenges it’s facing

Sue Huggett

Pet healthcare manufacturer Beaphar hits a major milestone this year as it celebrates its 75th birthday and to mark the occasion, all 500 staff members at the family-run business are gathering in Holland in November for the special dinner and party.

The British office has decided to also mark the birthday in its own unique style and a 10-strong team will cycle 175 miles from its offices in Haverhill, Suffolk, to the head office in Raalte, Holland. Over three days next month, they will be joined by 12 of their Dutch colleagues, led by Beaphar’s CEO Henk Aa, for the last 50 miles.

“At Beaphar, people matter,” says business manager for the UK and Ireland Sue Huggett. “It’s such a special place to work.” Innovative ideas are encouraged, she said, and if an idea is yours, you’re given full ownership and recognition for its fruits.

Daan (left), his daughter Laurence and Henk

Beaphar was founded in 1942 by Bernard Aa in Raalte, though his grandson Daan has now taken over the reigns of the company as son Henk has taken a step back from day-to-day management of the business. Exporting to 86 countries, its core business is in veterinary medicines, super premium foods and vitamin preparations, and it has a strong reputation for its health and care range for pets. In the UK, it carries over 650 lines and employs about 80 people. Worldwide it has more than 500 employees in 15 European countries, though core sites are Holland, the UK, Germany and France. Beaphar makes 95% of all its products in three factories in Holland and its Gainsborough site – the English site manufactures flea products, the King British aquatics range and some shampoos for the UK market. It also produces products for France, Germany and Holland. “Manufacturing medicines ourselves means we have more control over our destiny,” Sue explained. “It also means we are not sharing margins with third parties and can pass this on to our retailers.”

Bernard founded Beaphar in 1942

Entrepreneurial spirit
Henk oversaw Beaphar’s establishment as a limited company in 1974 and its own R&D department and laboratory at Raalte in 1979. Fifteen years later Beaphar acquired British firm Sherleys and in 2007, Gainsborough-based Sinclair Animal and Household Care, a medicines’ manufacturer for pet and aquatic products. “Beaphar is an ever-changing tapestry,” said Sue. “We do not seem to go through six months without something significant happening.

Beaphar’s first production facility

But that’s the entrepreneurial spirit, and it is a family trait.”

Research and development is a key focus for Beaphar, which sees continuous investment, and although most R&D is carried out in Raalte, Gainsborough has responsibility for aquatics innovation, product development and quality control.

Down memory lane… a trip back in time to 1975

Its strategic products are found in the worming, flea and aquatics categories – in 1983, it brought out its first flea collar and today is the No. 1 producer of flea collars in the world with an output of 12 million. It also makes 6 million flea drops and 500,000 bottles of shampoo.

Frustratingly, many pet owners do not seem to understand the difference between licensed medicines and non-licensed products. “The number of hoops we have to jump through to get our licences,” said Sue.

More golden oldies from the Beaphar library…

Having a veterinary licence is an assurance of quality. “For retailers, it’s about having the confidence to sell a product, knowing it’s gone through the ultimate level of testing and controls, and is of the highest quality. You can be sure that it does what it says on the label, and that the company putting it on the market have a qualified team to support both it and you.”

At the moment, Beaphar holds 42 Marketing Authorisations (MAs) in the UK and four in Ireland, for on-animal flea control products (spot ons, collars, sprays, shampoos) and wormers.

THROUGH THE AGES: What better way to show the evolution of a product? Here we have WORMclear for cats and dogs, and the Stomach Calming Tablets

She added: “We think we’re the only company that produces premium care products, medicines and foods.” As a result, the exact same level of care and diligence applies to all its products, whether food, licensed medicine or healthcare products.

Brexit: opportunities and challenges
With Brexit on the horizon, there are a lot of unknowns especially for a company that operates across Europe. “Yes, there are doubts and concerns about how things are going to turn out,” said Sue. “We’ve noticed that currency exchange rates have affected our UK profitability to the company as a whole.”

The big question on the mind of every person involved in medicines is what is going to happen to medicines’ regulation? There will clearly be changes once Brexit becomes a reality – for one, the European Medicines Agency, now based in London, is moving to Europe. Currently, all medicine regulation is European, and chances are for an interim period at least, the UK will stick with a European mark, she said. “But how will things start to change, and how will we drift?” she asked. “Will every country have its own licence? Or will we see a UK licence and EU licence? If so, the UK will get medicines slower because manufacturers will seek a European licence first simply because that grants them access to the whole of the EU, and the UK would be further down the list of priorities, if at all.”

Beaphar’s first ever warehouse!

Last year, Beaphar launched the FIPROtec range of flea treatments for dogs and cats. Made in Holland, these have European licences – will they eventually need additional UK licences? But it’s not just the issue of licences – what about batch controls, she asked.

She said: “There is an understanding among countries at the moment that we each respect and accept each other’s quality controls. Will we now have to re-check everything? Are we going to continue to trust our European colleagues or will we have additional checks to make? It would be good if the UK could rubber stamp the European licences, but for now, no one knows what is going to happen. There are some big question marks.”

Henk in the laboratory in 1968

However, Brexit also offers strong opportunities, in particular for the aquatics brand King British. All King British products are made in the UK, and so the brand has complete control over its cost base. On two counts this bodes well – with imports becoming more expensive due to the pound-Euro exchange rate, King British has an advantage as it is not exposed to the same currency devaluation and fluctuation as imports and so can become more price competitive. Second, the export market is seeing increased stimulus due to the lower pound rate. Sue added: “If the ‘Buy British’ feeling continues to grow, everything made in the UK could have a competitive advantage, and you cannot have a more British brand than King British. That all looks favourable. For now, we concentrate on the positives, and continue to do everything we can to grow the business.”

Raalte’s production facility and laboratory in 1975

The tapestry continues to evolve.

UK strategies
In the UK and Ireland, Beaphar targets the independent pet specialist. Digital marketing is definitely taking on a bigger role, said Sue. “Everyone seems to think digital marketing is social media, but it’s so much more. We build targeted eshots, deals via emails and our website Trade Zone into our campaigns. It’s all about effective business-to-business communication, and digital marketing is a very powerful tool.”

Not a digital display any where!

For instance, when Beaphar works on a campaign, once Point of Sale material is finalised, the digital marketing team picks up the creative baton and transfers this to an online strategy which can include a Facebook competition for pet owners, messages for retailers via eshots and links for retailers who own websites such as banner ads and website content.

Beaphar has also put its training (which used to exist in print form) online. “All training can now be done digitally, so retailers can work on it whenever they want to, and once they’ve completed successfully a multiple-choice assessment, they can print out a personalised certificate,” she said.

Beaphar’s first office in Holland

But Sue is especially delighted that the training course has now achieved AMTRA accreditation and its training modules can offer up to 18 Continuous Professional Development (CPD) points. The modules currently comprise Flea & Tick Control & Prevention; Worm Control & Prevention; Dental Care; Joint Care; and Aquatics – King British has become the first aquatics brand to have an AMTRA-certified course. “We have always offered training to customers, that’s what we do, but we have never been recognised for the quality of our training, and we are delighted to be recognised now with AMTRA certification,” said Sue.

Flea collars in production