SUPPLIER INTERVIEW: Sealed Air Corporation

Jerome Peribere reveals plans following the acquisition of Diversey

Peribere's priorities for the New Year centre around employee engagement and emerging markets.
Peribere's priorities for the New Year centre around employee engagement and emerging markets.

Sealed Air Corporation acquired Diversey one year ago and new president and chief operating officer Jerome Peribere, who will take up the title of CEO in 2013, has been tasked with integrating the two multi-billion-dollar businesses.

Here, he tells Hotelier Middle East the company’s growth strategy and priorities for the next 12 months

Jerome Peribere has been president and chief operating officer of Sealed Air Corporation since August 2012, during which time a core part of his role has focused on the integration of Diversey within Sealed Air, following its acquisition in 2011.

Next year, he will lead the US $8 billion company as CEO, with his goals being to complete the integration and engage his 26,000 employees with the future of the company.

On a recent visit to Dubai, Peribere, along with Somer Gundogdu, VP — MENA, Diversey Gulf FZE, revealed the firm’s growth projections — and outlined why the Middle East hospitality industry would be a market of particular importance.

Can you sum up Sealed AIR’s core products and their benefits to the hospitality business?
Jerome Peribere: First of all, Sealed Air is an $8 billion company that has three divisions. One is a division that does protective packaging, the second one does food and beverage and the third division does institutional and laundry.

Our acquisition of Diversey, which closed on October 1 of last year, has been transformational in the sense it definitely moves the needle for Sealed Air in terms of size from a $4.5 billion to an $8 billion company, that’s one.

And secondly, Sealed Air was very strong in food packaging but now we are really becoming the leader in food and beverage in terms of our ability to have a completely exhaustive offering in food safety.

So imagine the whole food safety chain; we are intervening throughout that food chain — in the slaughterhouse by ensuring total safety in operations there with sanitation of the plant, to equipment for packaging the meat, so the machineries, to the films to end up in a safe packaging.

We are intervening in all of those places. And this is now the link with the institutional and laundry business that Diversey had, which is very important and which is extremely important for Sealed Air in the GCC countries because this is, by the way, our lead business.

We have in the Middle East more than 700 people because we are all about technology and knowledge transfer — we teach hotels and restaurants how to have a much more sustainable approach to their cleaning processes. We are providing solutions that use less electricity, less water, less chemicals, so it is more productive, more cost efficient, more sustainable; that is our job.

In the Middle East, which are the markets you see most growth potential in?
JP: Some have been steadily growing like the UAE for example, like Saudi Arabia. Some have been more erratic with the changes in particular regimes that have been observed.

But Egypt is an important country for us. It has been a little bit more erratic but overall, when you take the trend over the last five to six years, it has been a very high growth country for us. Dubai and the UAE are becoming a very big touristic region. Hotel building is strong. We are the heart of our growth here.

How do your partnerships with hotels work?
Somer Gundogdu: Our interaction with hotels does not start at the time of opening; it starts much before that.

We go to the properties and asses the needs at the time of construction and we start to work with the management or the owners, understand the needs, install our systems and programmes to ensure that on the first day they open, all of the floors are shiny, all the food is top quality, nobody gets food poisoning, and all of the linen is fresh.

Taking the example of laundry, what services do you offer hotels?
SG: Every offering that is served to every single customer is unique and tailored to their needs — starting with the products that we serve along with the dosing stations, the locations of the dosing stations, the training programmes and the support that they require.

JP: We are providing new technologies with two rinses only that save water and energy, [using] soft chemicals that are not aggressive on the linen so you can use the linen for longer.

If you can use the linen for three years instead of two years, that brings huge value for the hotel industry.

We are offering this low-energy, low-water-use sustainable approach and we also then offer new materials to wrap the laundry, the sheets or the blankets, new plastics, shrink films which are absolutely fabulous. These are new innovations that improve the look.

In what other ways will Sealed Air Corporation innovate going forward?
JP: We are spending $150 million in research so that’s a huge asset for us to be able to use that research to bring innovative solutions. In the institutional business we have the best machines in the industry to clean the floors and make them more shiny in hotels and so on, these are our TASKI machines.

We have the most efficient dispensing machines for laundry and kitchens. In the packaging business we have these shrink films, we have 25 and 30 micro layering steps on polyethylene films which allow an improvement of film properties — this is what innovation is for.

And on the sustainability note, where are the most opportunities for hotels to really save?
JP: It’s mostly about saving in manpower because if you introduce new technologies and new ways of cleaning you can make your manpower more efficient. We have programmes of recycling and donations with hotels. We have recently signed one with Shangri-La in Asia to recycle wasted soap and give that for disaster relief situations, we have lots of those programmes.

SG: These are the programmes that we are bringing into the Middle East as well. When we talk about sustainability, the biggest saving a hotel operator can get is through his laundry, because laundry is the key area where all of the laundering operation is done — think of all the washing machines and the water spent over there.

The low temperature programme that we are introducing to all of our customers right now gives a much lower wash temperature than the wash temperature that they are used to. What it gives is a substantial energy saving on their electricity bill.

It’s substantially less water footprint, so we go to the hotels and assess their carbon footprint and tailor-make a carbon footprint reduction programme for all of those properties.

In 2013 you become CEO, what are your priorities for the year?
JP: My priorities are going to be to finish the integration of Diversey and engage our employees into the future of this company. I am a strong believer that the success of companies is decided by the employees.

They have to be engaged into the growth project that we are going to have. And I do believe that the strategy of this company is towards investing in emerging countries, that’s where we are going, that’s what we are doing.

But it means also that we are going to need to preserve what we have in the existing footprint that we have. At the very same time we are going to organically grow disproportionately in what is generally called the new world. Employees have to understand that project, they have to buy it and that’s how we are going to grow faster.

I have been three months in the job and I have been to three continents and I am spending a lot of time travelling; that’s very important to assess locally what our strengths are, our opportunities and how we can leverage those strengths.

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