"In the coming months, we will be closely analyzing the markets and looking at current indicators to decide the long-lasting megatrends we should capitalize on."
What has 2020 meant for Jebsen & Jessen Ingredients?
2020 will be remembered as a year like no other, with staff health and safety being our top priority among managing business as usual in new norms. Having thus far successfully managed the pandemic, we are given the opportunity to look beyond 2020 for opportunities to invest and grow. Jebsen & Jessen Ingredients has intensified its value-added services in collaboration with our suppliers, both by building on our know-how, such as lab testing services and technical support, and by enabling greater back-office automation. In 2020, we managed to implement IT services to enable productivity and connectivity during work from home, overcoming social distancing and travel restrictions, and setting a good foundation for our work in 2021 and beyond.
In 2021, our top priority will be our people. We have recently launched our High Potential Talent Program (HIPO) to groom and develop our next levels of leaders across all functions. In addition to HIPO, our staff will embark on functional and soft skills trainings to ensure everyone is given the right opportunities to advance and grow.
Our other key focuses will be our growth mindset and growth agenda: our HIPO candidates will take on initiatives in growing the business; expanding our product portfolio as well as studying strategic growth segments, such as waste water treatment and green energy. We have already allocated a team across business lines to look at the opportunities in these segments.
How have your different business segments performed in the last financial year?
Jebsen & Jessen engages in equal proportions in chemical markets, such as coatings, rubber and plastics; as well as nutrition and health markets, including food, animal feed, personal care, and pharma, each representing 50% of our turnover. Given our diverse profile, we had a balanced year despite the pandemic. Our business remained healthy with similar levels to 2019, an achievement we are very proud of, and a great starting point for 2021.
What are Jebsen and Jessen’s key markets, and what differentiates the company as a partner of choice in these countries?
Thailand is our biggest market and we have been established in Southeast Asia and China for a long time. In terms of emerging markets, Myanmar is the last frontier for ingredients distributors in Southeast Asia; the country has a young, well-educated workforce that is very keen to learn the ropes of the business. Our focus this year remains on scaling up our presence in the regions we are familiar with, and part of this would be through mergers and acquisitions.
In terms of our strengths in the region, Southeast Asia is our home turf; we were founded in 1963 in Singapore and we enjoy a great reputation with our customers and principals across the region. What reinforces their trust is that Jebsen & Jessen is very disciplined around compliance, registration, documentation, quality and transparency, and we have experienced supply chain, customer service, sales and technical teams, so they never face surprises with us. The advantage we offer, apart from our boots on the ground, is our local knowledge, connections, network and presence that would otherwise take many years and immense investments to develop.
What are your key objectives for 2021?
We are optimistic about the opportunities available and in the ability of our team to perform; on a personal, business, and even on a country level, I know we have all emerged from 2020 stronger. In the coming months, we will be closely analyzing the markets and looking at current indicators to decide the long-lasting megatrends we should capitalize on. The pandemic has interrupted regular cycles in the chemicals industry yet we remain committed to our customers and are always fine-tuning our offerings to ensure that our world-class quality and services meet their needs. Jebsen & Jessen’s commitment is to not only to help our customers and principals grow, but also to help them navigate the challenges they might face in an ever-changing world and reality, an aspect not to be underestimated in light of the pandemic. Finally, we are looking for acquisitions in distribution companies to expand our product portfolio and market reach that can add both depth and size to our customer base, product lines and principals, as well as bolster our relevant know-how, experience and expertise.