“France is better than its reputation”
After more than a decade doing business in France, Thomas Eldered, CEO of the Swedish company Recipharm, gives some insights about his French experience. He explains why they decided to invest in France and how Business France helped them to succeed.
A brilliant career in the pharma industry
Thomas Eldered is the co-founder and CEO of Recipharm. He has built his career in the pharmaceutical industry. Thanks to his Msc in Industrial and Management Engineering from Linköping Institute of Technology, he first worked at Pharmacia for 8 years, notably as a factory manager. Then, in 1995, Thomas Eldered and Lars Backsell established Recip with the acquisition of a dose facility in Stockholm producing 20 different pharmaceutical products. Since the beginning, Recip was concerned by environmental issues and gained this way a competitive advantage on the market. In 2001, Recip became Recipharm and Thomas became the CEO in 2008.
France, the first step to international growth
Thanks to Thomas Eldered’s expertise and leadership, Recipharm is the leader of pharmaceutical product development and manufacture. The company has now 20 production sites in 10 different countries. Its first step towards internationalisation was made in France in 2007. They found an opportunity there that they could not refuse: “2007 was actually a very transformational year for us because that is also the year where we started to expand with manufacturing facilities outside of Sweden. And, the first country we went to was France” says Thomas. As he explains, France was a good destination as it already had the required niche technology and skilled workforce. Indeed, even if he might have been sceptical at the beginning, he realised that France displays the right context: “The industrial culture, at least in the pharmaceutical industry, is actually very similar to what we see in Sweden.”
Recipharm has now 4 production sites in France where they employ 20% of their total workforce and achieve 20% of their turnover. Thomas Eldered adds with a smirk on his face: “don’t just read the papers, France is better than its reputation”. Even if he points out that the language barrier can sometimes be a problem, it is actually the only one they have to deal with.
Business France’s support
France has become the company’s second biggest place for manufacturing and third biggest market. To succeed, Recipharm found some help at Business France. For example, Business France organised meetings with regional partners to ensure a smooth establishment locally and to find the available financial support.
Business France also helped Recipharm to recruit talents in their facilities and more recently young international trainees within the V.I.E. framework. “We have had quite some help from Business France to actually spread the word that we are expanding, that we are growing, that we want to recruit people and so on” emphasises Thomas.
The business environment is getting better
Thomas Eldered also perceives that the French business environment is evolving and offers new opportunities for companies. Indeed, he argues that “we have seen a lot of improvement over these ten years in terms of business conditions… people in the business and in the industry think in similar ways as we do”.