For more than a century, Rausch has been using its medicinal plant know-how to export its shampoos and cosmetics all over the world. Since last summer, the Thurgau Group has been headed by Sandra Banholzer, CEO of Rausch, who is primarily targeting developments in the European markets. Maintenance.
This content was posted on July 10, 2022 – 11:00 am
In July 2021, the owners of Rausch handed over the management of their company to a non-family member for the first time in their history. Her choice fell on Sandra Banholzer, a former executive at Migros Group, the retail giant in Switzerland.
Founded 130 years ago, Rausch has specialized in natural cosmetics. The family company employs 160 people at its headquarters in Kreuzlingen in the canton of Thurgau and in the subsidiaries in Germany, Austria and Italy. Rausch announces annual sales of CHF 30 million.
After completing her bachelor’s degree in business administration at the Central Switzerland University of Applied Sciences, Sandra Banholzer started her career as commercial manager for Latin America at Luzi. From 2007 she held various management positions within the Migros Group, mainly in Switzerland, but also in Canada for two years. The mother of two has been running Rausch since July 2021.
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swissinfo.ch: When you took over Rausch, what surprised you the most?
Sandra Banholzer: Actually, I didn’t have any culture shock. At Rausch I can make operational decisions very quickly; On the other hand, to my surprise, some processes are just as slow as in a large company.
Rausch seems to have many leaders: the chairman of the board, the managing director, the CEO and other members of the family…
In practice, the situation is clear: the board of directors is responsible for strategy and I for operational business. My main contact is the Managing Director of the Board of Directors. The latter knows the company very well, having been interim CEO before I arrived. Of course, I also have interactions with the other members of the owning family.
How did Rausch “found” you?
When I worked for M-Industry, I wasn’t looking for a new professional challenge. I was then contacted by a headhunter who knew how to find the words to pique my interest.
You studied at a university of applied sciences (HES) and not at a classic academic university. What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a course?
I find that training at an HES is much more practical. In the business world, I don’t see any real downsides to the HES, even though these schools don’t have the academic reputation of traditional universities.
In your résumé you refer to your two waiting periods of eight and six months. This approach is unusual.
Why would I hide it and leave gaps in my career path? In addition, raising young children is a very rewarding experience, personally and professionally.
What have been the most important changes at Rausch since you took office?
First of all, I have implemented a new management style: I want decisions to be made at the bottom of the hierarchy; a cultural change must take place for this to happen. I also modernized our offices. In addition, we have two key projects in the pipeline. First, we will modernize the look and feel of all our products. Segundo, we are implementing a series of actions to help our external retailers (particularly pharmacies) to better sell our items. For this reason we are working on advertising campaigns, developing tools for points of sale and training our dealers.
You worked for Migros for a long time. What did you learn in this large group that is very useful to you in your current role?
I learned a lot about corporate governance. Of course, you can’t compare a cooperative with over 100,000 people like the Migros Group with Rausch, a family SME with 160 employees. Nevertheless, I was employed within the Migros Group at M-Industry, the division of industrial companies that includes, for example, Frey (chocolate manufacturer) and Mibelle (cosmetics specialist). Within M-Industry, each company enjoys a certain degree of autonomy and in this sense is comparable to a family SME.
Their range is quite wide with a variety of hair and skin care products as well as styling products. Are you considering a discount?
Our strategy is not to produce a few isolated items, but a complete line of products to care for all hair and skin types. Therefore, our range is necessarily extensive. However, we are aware of the costs and complexity that come with a wide range of products. For this reason, my predecessor has started to reduce our range and I will reduce it a little further. In addition, we will not introduce a new category in the next three years, but will supplement our range here and there according to the actual needs of consumers.
Your products are significantly more expensive than those of your competitors. How do you set your recommended retail prices?
Our high prices are fully justified as our products contain a high concentration of natural active ingredients. This is the result of key processes, carried out entirely in-house, that allow us to obtain plant extracts. Our products are also very good: you can wash your hair 30-40 times with a bottle of Rausch shampoo.
To what extent does the Swiss production allow you to pay a surcharge?
The Swiss origin is perceived worldwide as a guarantee of quality. In addition, our Swiss customers value the local origin of our products. Nevertheless, I don’t think that we can justify a real additional price with the Swiss Made in itself, especially compared to products from France or Germany.
Do your retail prices differ significantly from country to country?
Our prices are very similar within Europe, including Switzerland. On the other hand, in Middle East and Asia, our products are more expensive because we have to consider some additional costs including logistics, registration and translation; In addition, we are targeting a more exclusive clientele in these regions.
“In the Middle East and Asia we target a more exclusive clientele than in Europe”
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How do you imagine your international development?
We have branches in Germany, Austria and Italy, which are our main markets. In addition, our products are sold to more than twenty other countries around the world, mainly in Asia and the Middle East. In the coming years we want to develop primarily in Europe, both in our current markets and in new countries.
Do you have the ambition to one day become a global company, if necessary by going public to fund your development?
An IPO is not on the agenda at all. Nevertheless, our goal is to grow, but in a gradual and sensible way. Be that as it may, opening factories all over the world doesn’t seem desirable to me because we want to keep our strong roots in Switzerland.
How important is e-commerce for Rausch?
Internet sales are potentially very important both in Switzerland and abroad. Nevertheless, we are still at the very beginning and that is why I have put together my own team. A key point will be the maintenance of relationships with retailers, especially pharmacies: the latter want our products to retain a certain exclusivity, especially in terms of distribution channels.
In which country is your R&D center located?
Entirely in Switzerland, at our headquarters in Kreuzlingen. This center is a real economic asset for our company. In addition, to bring a new product to market, we need at least three years of research and development.
What regulations are you subject to in Switzerland and abroad?
We must comply with European Union cosmetics law, which is largely adopted by Switzerland. The resulting regulations are strict and tend to be tougher, especially with regard to application deadlines. Fortunately, regulatory coordination between Europe and North America is good; On the other hand, China is taking a different approach. Of course, the regulatory requirements in our industry are much less onerous than those that apply to pharmaceutical products.
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