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ZAMBON: THE ITALIAN PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANY FOCUSES ON FOREIGN MARKETS
Zambon is an Italian family business which has been in operation for 108 years, working in the fields of fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The company specialises in various therapeutic areas, including respiratory problems, pain management and women’s healthcare. In 2013, it had a turnover of 563 million Euros and a workforce of over 2,600 in 73 countries, but it has no intention of stopping here, and has launched an ambitious five-year plan which envisages investments of 154 million Euros in support of research and development. However, Italy will still be at the centre of its plans, as the company’s CEO, Maurizio Castorina, explained to us.
Zambon is a multinational company that has maintained its strong presence in Italy. How have you been able to sustain this position during the economic crisis?
We are a group that believes strongly in the importance of investing in this country and we, in particular, are achieving this by focusing on three key areas. These are, firstly, the renewal of our product portfolio through acquisitions, licensing agreements, and research and development in the field of specialist areas and rare diseases. Secondly, the introduction of new production systems which conform to World Class Manufacturing and effectively allow us to offer highly competitive prices and the best quality standards. Thirdly, a search for talented people who can provide added value in our new areas of development and cross fertilisation within the company, enhancing what we call our corporate culture. Our strategy has also led us to invest 40 million Euros in our new premises in Vicenza, the “Health & Quality Factory”, and to allocate 154 million Euros to research and development over the next five years. I should add that all this is only possible with the support of an enterprising family business, or of an entrepreneur able to take a long-term view and, more importantly still, who is inspired by a love for his country.
Why do you think Italy is a country worth investing in?
Italy is a country that still manages to be really competitive: particularly from the standpoint of our high quality scientific training (in fact, in terms of the impact factor of our scientific publications, we rank third in the world), and our top-level manufacturing culture (we are second only to Germany in the export field). Then there are our satellite industries, which are certainly flourishing and able to offer us significant competitive advantages. We are carrying out a strategy of diversification, not only in Italy but also in emerging nations. In fact, we have achieved a significant result in that Italy, one of the main markets for Zambon, now accounts for 25% of our turnover, and the remaining 75% is derived from sales abroad.
What is your position on the international market?
We are a company with a strong propensity towards internationalisation, to the extent that, as I mentioned, 75% of our turnover comes from abroad. Countries such as Russia, China and Brazil continue to grow alongside the success of Fluimucil, Spidifen and Monuril: core products for Zambon. Our growth is attributable to acquisitions on the one hand, and to increased sales of our various brands on the other. We are also working to bring our main product in the respiratory field, Fluimucil, into compliance with the "Gold" guidelines. This is an internationally recognised standard of treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: set to become, along with asthma, the third leading cause of death in the next two decades. Finally, we are focusing on the launch of a new molecule, Safinamide, for the treatment of diseases of the central nervous system such as Parkinson's, and on expanding the market for Promixin, a product for treating cystic fibrosis.
Which are the countries or areas you regard as having higher value added, and in which you have chosen to invest the most?
We continue to believe that Europe and America will be the main scientific protagonists over the next twenty years, but we must not forget that the growth markets will be those emerging nations which still offer plenty of potential in the field of primary care. We have opened a new branch in Germany to consolidate our involvement in the field of the central nervous system, and we also envisage expansion in Northern Europe. However, we are not losing sight of countries such as Indonesia, Colombia and China which represent areas of development for us over the next decade.
What are your strategies and your short-term goals?
Safinamide is expected to come to market in five European countries in 2015, and will then gradually expand into others. At the same time, we are submitting a request to the United States regulatory body, the FDA, for permission to enter the US market, where we are shortly due to sign a partnership agreement with an American player.