“Latin America is a very fragmented market with few global players. The trend is clearly one of consolidation, and this is where we see Univar Solutions playing an important role. Our history in the region is recent, but the company has been growing significantly through acquisitions.”
Can you provide insight into the evolution of Univar Solutions, particularly after the acquisition of Tagma in September 2017?
Expanding geographically is part of Univar Solutions’ global strategy, and the aim is to grow our presence in new countries as well as the markets where we are currently operating. The company already sells to most of the countries in Latin America through its global exports unit. Univar Solutions began investing into Latin America only seven years ago through acquisitions. We started in Brazil, which was followed by Mexico, and we now also have people and assets in Central America and the Andean region.
More recently, we completed the transaction with Nexeo Solutions on March 1st 2019 and have changed our name and branding to Univar Solutions. This transaction introduces a very strong specialties business to Univar Solutions´ portfolio in Mexico and Central America. We are now focused on growing the business and capturing value from the combination of the two companies.
What were the reasons behind opening a sales center in Colombia in November 2018?
Colombia is the 3rd largest economy in Latin America and has been growing steadily in recent years. Univar Solutions always had export sales in the country, but because of its importance, we decided to establish a legal entity within the country, and we are building a strong team to deliver a solid business plan to grow in the Andean region.
How competitive is the landscape for Univar Solutions in Latin America?
The landscape is very competitive given that there are a significant number of players in markets with economic and political volatility. The landscape will not become easier for small and medium size distributors. The successful distributors will offer customers safe and secure handling of materials, excellent product availability, market and product expertise, technical support and high-level service and digital solutions. For suppliers, successful distributors offer safe and secure handling of materials, transparent commercial relationships, brand stewardship, market expertise and support for new product adoption aimed at business growth.
Univar Solutions offers exactly that to its customers and suppliers, in addition to having a strong balance sheet for further investments.
Additionally, Latin America is a very fragmented market with few global players. The trend is clearly one of consolidation, and this is also where we see Univar Solutions playing a very important role. Our history in Latin America is recent, but the company has been growing significantly through acquisitions over these few years. We see ourselves as part of the select group leading the consolidation trend in the region.
What factors have been driving Univar Solutions’ growth in Latin America over the past 12 months?
In 2018, Univar Solutions further streamlined operations, introduced process innovations and focused on growing with its suppliers. Our asset-light and resilient business model was properly managed through various challenges, including uncertainty around the economic environment, transportation costs and product availability, as well as slower demand during the second half of the year.
Our capillarity allowed us to grow our share in the solvent business. Our focused industry approach with a strong presence in specialty markets such as beauty and personal care, CASE and performance chemicals drove higher customer engagement and sales.
Another key driver for the company’s growth and success is our salesforce execution. We are extremely methodical and disciplined in the way we go to market, as well as how we track and accelerate projects. We have made investments into technologies and processes to support our sales workforce so that they can spend the majority of their time in front of the customer.
What are Univar Solutions’ main objectives over the next year?
Univar Solutions has three key priorities in Latin America for 2019: firstly, to grow the business, secondly, to capture the value of the combination of Univar Solutions and Nexeo, and finally, to change the culture of the company. We aim to fully and exceptionally integrate the businesses and drive Univar Solutions’ vision to be the most valuable chemical and ingredient distributor in the world.
Do you have a final message for the members of APLA and readers of Global Business Reports?
With the recent acquisition of Nexeo Solutions, we are combining product offering services and market insight with technology and product knowledge. While we do have a one-stop-shop approach in terms of commodities and specialties, it is important to point out that we have sellers that are focused on specific markets, meaning that they have the knowledge and insights necessary to support growth and decision making by our suppliers. Univar Solutions has the opportunity to leverage people, technology and resources to invest further in Latin America and expand our business in the region.
Our commitment to customers and suppliers is to be dependable; you can count on us as an extension of your team. Also, it is our job to make your job easier, so we are working for smarter supplying and simpler sourcing. And finally, we only succeed if customers and suppliers succeed. We are focused on solving logistical challenges, sharing market data and insights and providing product application support. With Univar Solutions, we are bringing the best of the best for customers and suppliers.