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Member of the month November 2019 - Louis Widmer SA

CEO Goetz Winter speaks about the internationalization of Louis Widmer SA

“A life dedicated to skin” was the guiding principle that Louis-Edouard Widmer and his son Louis-Max Widmer devised when they founded Louis Widmer SA in September 1960. What began in 1960 as a three-man operation has developed over the last 60 years into an international company with 250 employees. In the following interview with CEO Goetz Winter, you can find out more about the internationalization of Louis Widmer SA and the challenges it poses.

Louis Widmer SA

Why did Louis-Edouard Widmer and his son Louis-Max Widmer dedicate their life's work to skin? Well, the founders were fascinated by the unique complexity of the largest organ in the human body and its countless key functions. It is a fascination that still shapes the entire company to this day and repeatedly finds expression in its innovative products for the skin.

The guiding principle of “highest quality, best possible effectiveness and perfect skin compatibility” is still embodied in Schlieren today; it ensures the development of care products for which Louis Widmer has been awarded several prizes.

Mr. Winter, what are your most important export markets, and why?
Belgium and Germany are our most important markets. In Belgium, we have managed to implement a very consistent and clear strategy over the last few years. This has made us one of the most important suppliers of dermocosmetics there. Sun care in particular has taken root outstandingly well there. Germany is also very important for us due to the size of the market. It’s still the market with the greatest growth potential for us. Another very important export market for us is the Middle East. We’ve been working with the same partner there for a very long time. He was able to develop very successful relationships with doctors and pharmacists in most countries of the region.

What challenges do you have to face in these markets?
In Belgium, we work very closely with pharmacies. Chains and online retail are also growing strongly in importance there, which is weakening our traditional distribution. We are still too small in Germany; we work with too many small pharmacies and not enough large ones yet. We are making some changes there in order to exploit the potential. Due to the size of the market, there is a long way to go. In the Middle East, political unrest is a constant challenge. New laws, such as the one in Saudi Arabia that forces us to replace long-standing staff with Saudis, are also a big challenge.

What is your hottest export tip?
I have to say that I don't have one generally valid export tip – each situation is very different depending on the industry. For the cosmetics industry, Asia is and remains the region with the strongest growth potential in the coming years, even for companies that have been there for a long time.

What are you particularly proud of?
At the moment, we’re particularly proud of our success in Switzerland and Belgium. However, the major growth potential clearly lies in other markets. We’re placing our future hopes on new markets such as South Korea or China, in which we only got started a year ago. The challenges there are very great, so we would be very proud to overcome them.

To what extent did you benefit from the services of S-GE?
S-GE helped to find a distribution partner in South Korea. They pre-selected potential partners and then organized and accompanied us to the meetings. They also helped us to find potential partners for Russia. This has not yet been finalized.

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