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Big fish in a small pond strategy

04.12.2017 10:54

PM-International

(From left to right) Florian Vladacenco, International Communication Manager, PM-International; Carlo Thelen, Director General, Chamber of Commerce; Rolf Sorg, Executive Chairman of the Board, PM-International and Jeannot Erpelding, Director International Affairs, Chamber of Commerce

PM-International was founded in 1993 by the German born executive chairman of the board Rolf Sorg. PM-International is distributing its food supplements (the FitLne series) and its cosmetics for health and beauty (BeautyLine series) in over 36 countries worldwide. The company is in over 40 locations in Europe and beyond. Over 450 staff are currently employed, around 60 of them at the Company's headquarters in Luxembourg. In addition to them, there are 150 employees at the European Logistic Center in Speyer, Germany, and numerous distributors worldwide.

PM International engages the direct selling business model in marketing its products and is one of Europe's largest direct marketing companies in the areas of health, wellness and beauty. This Independent family-run company has a solid financial base: for 11 years in succession, the company has been elected as one of Germany's TOP-100 Most- Innovative medium-sized companies. PM Group's annual turnover in 2016 - 460 million dollars and expected a total revenue growth of approximately 33% in 2017.

Interview with Rolf Sorg, executive chairman of the board.

What projects are you currently working on?

Relentless work, worldwide recognition and building such an innovative and life changing brand is a herculean effort. Our motto is "we work hard but at the end of the day we party hard!". This is the best recognition of one's dedication. Therefore, we are planning in small details the 25th Anniversary of PM-International in 2018 at the SAP Arena, Mannheim in Germany in front of an impressive crowd of 15.000 people. As always, this will be a magical moment of celebration where partners from around the globe will be attending.

Our growth is healthy and sustainable, but the speed (on average 30% in terms of revenue in the last 20 years) is quite extraordinary. Continuing growth requires both recruitment of new and very competent human resources and expansion of existing infrastructure. This is the reason why by 2019 we will build a second administration unit in Schengen in order to accommodate the Company's ever-growing needs as a big player on the premium market in food supplements and beauty products worldwide.

The LIST (Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology) and PM International organized last month the first edition of the International Award in Bioinnovation (LIAB Award) celebrating world-leading researchers in the fields of biology, ecology, circular economy, health sciences and food sciences. The ceremony took place at Halle des Poches à Fonte in Belval on 23 November. Out of 34 candidates, all reputed scientists, the jury elected that the big prize (sponsored by PM) would go to an outstanding Canadian professor and scientist, Mr. Paul Spagnolo for discovering how a tiny, neglected part of the avocado could be effective in treating leukemia. This a magnificent and revolutionary discovery!

Technically speaking, the close collaboration with the large research team at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology offers us the best opportunities for research and development. As a result we are now developing exclusive technologies to improve bioavailability and highly innovative bioactive substances. But the idea was born in Schengen. What's absolutely idyllic in Schengen? The golden vineyards, the highly appreciate wines, the special taste of its grapes. Especially for me being born and raised in the Palatina region, wine is a lifestyle, a passion, the axis mundi of this land. B. Franklin used to say that "wine makes daily living better, with less tension and more tolerance." Sure thing, enjoying the Mosel wine is an act of culture but as quite an important vineyards' owner myself I was wondering what the producers do with the skins and seeds from the grapes? Not much. Producing schnapps or grappa would be an excellent idea but Luxembourgish producers have hard time selling this product since they are not viewed as professional with a strong distillery tradition. So yes, thousands of tons of skins and seeds were thrown away, with no regrets. This is how, together with our leading scientists, we figured out a way to take advantage of this incredible situation and make use of off-cuts, which had been seen as burden for the local producers and transform them into the most basic and effective form of biotechnology. At times one brilliant and concrete idea is better than a hundred genius ideas with no effect in reality. In fact, this is not only a win-win for both PM and the local economy but also a perfectly valid ecological and sustainable solution and a contribution to science in general. Also, this special 100% biological extract, exclusively developed by PM and the LIST will serve as the basis for the development of new products that will improve the lives of thousands of people.

We are always looking for fresh opportunities to expand our business. In 2018, we will launch subsidiaries in China, South Korea, Vietnam, Denmark and Chile. This is an ambitious plan, but we have accumulated a great deal of experience and surpassed tremendous hurdles, therefore we now got the knowledge and the depth to succeed.

Our IT infrastructure will receive big investments, as the digital transformation, the marketing CRM platform, mobile technologies, apps and responsive design will take our client services to a state-of-the-art level.

What successes are you particularly proud of?

We are like a marathonist that is sprinting for the whole 42 kilometres and keeps getting better every year! We built a powerful culture of success and invested in the most modern technologies in order to develop innovative premium products that constantly turn out to be game-changers. Our products have influenced the lives of hundreds of thousands of people so this is the best input ever. But what's incredible is the pace of this growth. Normally, the top performers in our industry display a typical growth rate of 3-5% per year, which is considered a very good figure. Our usual growth rate has been around 30% yearly over the last 24 years. PM's ultimate goal is to improve our customers' life standards, make them healthier and more beautiful day by day. PM has also imposed as market leader in important European countries such as Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland.

What are the biggest challenges your sector is facing?

We have to be extremely thorough when opening subsidiaries in new countries, especially when it comes to being compliant with local rules and regulations. When you operate in 35 countries legally, every market is specific and sometimes you need to readapt your operation from scratch. This is especially true in Asia. More importantly we must keep our competitive advantage and protect ourselves from copycats.

Photos: Pierre Guersing

PM-International is distributing its food supplements (the FitLne series) ....

... and its cosmetics for health and beauty (BeautyLine series) in over 37 countries worldwide

PM-International built a powerful culture of success and invested in the most modern technologies in order to develop innovative premium products that constantly turn out to be game-changers

PM has also imposed as market leader in important European countries such as Germany, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Switzerland

This Independent family-run company has a solid financial base: for 11 years in succession, the company has been elected as one of Germany’s TOP-100 Most- Innovative medium-sized companies