Business Profiles

Farmec: More than skin deep

A benchmark by which all Romanian entrepreneurial businesses are measured, Farmec is a multifaceted beauty empire with a picture-perfect heritage dating back more than 120 years.

Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder, but success can be readily recognised by everyone, and Farmec, a Romanian beauty company, has the glow of an operation that is not only hugely profitable, but also one that shows no signs of slowing down.

Beauty is big business, especially in recent years with so many online make-up gurus seeking to tantalise audiences with the possibility of perfect skin and enviable hair, but back when Farmec was founded, there was nothing like the demand for beauty products that there is today. Back then, it was a risk to jump into a relatively unproven industry, but now, given the global reach of the operation, it’s clear that the founder was onto something special long before the masses.

“Beginning more than 120 years ago, FARMEC now has recognition both in Romania and the wider world, with its products being exported to countries in Europe, Asia and North America. The modern history of the company began in 1967, when FARMEC became the first producer of Gerovital H3 creams and emulsions, thanks to Prof. Dr. Ana Aslan. The initial products were marketed to women aged 40, as this is when the skin showed the first signs of ageing. Today, FARMEC produces over 400 cosmetics, covering a wide range of uses and all age segments.”

From humble beginnings with effective anti-ageing products to enormous product diversity, Farmec has come a long way, especially now that Mircea Turdean has taken the reins as CEO:

“I started my career at Farmec in 1994 and my professional development progressed along with the company’s evolution. In 2010, after 16 years of experience within the company, I took the lead from my father, Liviu Turdean and become a member of Farmec’s Board of Directors. In 2011, I was elected president and since then, I’ve held also the position of Farmec’s CEO.”

Clearly deeply committed to the company, it makes perfect sense for Mircea to lead it into a new era, given his background as a chemical engineer. In a rare show of modern-day company loyalty, he has worked his way through various vital roles, to gain a thorough and indisputable knowledge of the organisation from the ground up. This also allowed him to fully digest every operational methodology in place, whilst looking for key performance areas to improve. The result has been a steady, observable growth every year and a cementing of Farmec into the beauty industry list of greats, thanks to diversification and development:

“We’ve entered new strategic market segments: luxury cosmetics and make-up, the development of the network of Farmec and Gerovital brand stores and the launch of the franchise for Gerovital stores and many more.”

Where does Farmec get its passion and drive from? The answer is simple; the management professionals that have sought to grow their careers with this constantly evolving enterprise. The company is something of a corporate family, welcoming everyone to have their say and use their voice, while also being proactive in encouraging a work/life balance. Through open communication and engagement with new ideas, Farmec has neatly sidestepped the potential pitfall of stagnation to become the toast of Romania. Nothing is off limits, as the latest ranges prove:

“Farmec established an investment program of over €2million, aimed at modernising the company’s laboratories and production lines. Due to investments in the last couple of years, Farmec’s first line on the luxury cosmetics segment was launched and Gerovital Beauty, the first make-up line. 2019 is also a great year for Farmec because of the première of a new range for men, Gerovital Men and the modernisation of the Gerovital Plant range.”

With multiple physical locations throughout Romania and a significant international footprint as well, thanks to tailored product portfolios for different regions and cultures, there is no getting away from the fact that Farmec is giving great business face, but is the industry itself buoyant? The answer is yes.

Despite recurring periods of global fiscal turbulence, the beauty industry has remained steadfastly profitable, particularly for those companies with products that can demonstrate proven results. The fiercely competitive nature of the sector means that Farmec has to consistently review, update and improve existing products while also devising new ones, but Mircea sees this as a good thing. He believes that the unrelenting pressure from other international brands drives qualitative growth within Farmec, allowing consumers to get the products they crave, but at fair prices. It is important to Mircea and his team to set the company apart from the countless others, not merely keep up with them:

“Farmec has a history in the local market of nearly 130 years, and during this time we have maintained our top position in the local cosmetics industry, due to our determination to be always one step ahead and to steer the direction it is going in. The constant care for our consumers, the need to surprise them with top-quality products, to bring in Romania international innovations, but suitable to their needs and the fact that we invest in creating the best products is what sets us apart.”

Moreover, remaining funded by 100% Romanian sources has allowed Farmec to retain the intrinsic sense of national pride that is so central to the whole operation, but that’s not to say that external investment opportunities are off the cards.

The future for Farmec is all about growth and more specifically, franchising: “For many companies like Farmec, the franchise represents a strategy of quick expansion, but, for us, it means the ideal occasion to lay the foundations of a strong entrepreneurial culture together with our franchisees, by encouraging them to start a Romanian business. We’ll start the franchising of brand stores to external collaborators soon too, while continuing to research new markets.”

This franchising endeavour, coupled with continued expansion and development of the product portfolio, as well as improved logistics, means that Farmec is not only here to stay, it is here to grow. With a dynamic, passionate and knowledgeable leader like Mircea at the helm, it’s going to be fascinating to revisit the Farmec of the future, just to confirm that it met his demanding expectations:

“We want to maintain our leadership position as the biggest and most relevant local producer of cosmetics and to positively challenge the market to discover new products that meet consumers’ needs.” If any company can, it’s Farmec.

About the author

Alice Instone-Brewer

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