Markets & Companies

Innovation Through Formulation

Azelis Continues its Growth Trajectory

05.06.2024 - Anna Bertona, Group CEO at Azelis, looks back on her first six month in this role and gives an insight into her plans for the company's development.

On Jan. 1, 2024, Anna Bertona took on the role of Group CEO at ­Azelis. Ralf Kempf asked Bertona to look back on her first six months at the helm of the chemical distributor and her further strategic plans for the company.

CHEManager: Mrs. Bertona, when we spoke for the last time at the end of the previous year, you mentioned that Azelis’ foremost focus would be on driving (organic) growth with its customers and principals. What has happened in this respect since the beginning of the year?

Anna Bertona: Indeed, organic growth is our main priority, and for this, we are working together to attune Azelis’ building blocks, making sure we are on the right track to grow successfully and sustainably: I just presented a renewed purpose for the company during my last town hall, along with reviewed values, which now better represent the organization we have become. We are also sharpening our business strategy, to cater to the challenges and needs of today’s markets. So, this year is all about realigning and gearing up for a new phase of organic growth.

Which developments, both among your customers and the distributors themselves, do you see as challenges for the sector – and which as opportunities?

A. Bertona: Where there’s a challenge, there’s an opportunity: We see new players arise backed by private equities, becoming stronger competitors, and this is what keeps us all sharp and lifts the industry profile. While certain principals are struggling with high production costs, inflation, and increasing sustainability policies, changes in the dynamics and competitiveness of these companies will be prompted and this again will present challenges and opportunities. Also, we see the strong push in the EU government toward sustainability as a great opportunity, as we are well advanced in this area and help our customers and principals reach their own sustainability targets and ambitions.

Amid economic and geopolitical challenges, chemical distributors face investment uncertainties. In which areas do you think investment is nevertheless essential?

A. Bertona: Although the two are not necessarily connected, the current situation is indeed more challenging for distributors. We have kept conversion margins stable, so for Azelis, it is more about reallocating resources as well as leveraging organic and inorganic investments made in the past years.
Organically, we continue to invest in our technological capabilities throughout our global lab network to ensure our technical expertise and superior formulation abilities are ever supported by high-class equipment and technology.
Inorganically we invest in growth markets and white spots to complement organic growth, and we have the balance sheet to support this.
And, of course, we continue to invest in our people, attracting the right talents and helping them unfold their potential through training and personal development.

What initiatives does Azelis take to retain and develop existing employees and attract new talent?

A. Bertona: We want to attract and retain top-tier talent, so we are committed to helping them grow as people and professionals and keeping them motivated for a sustained career at Azelis.
Whenever there is an open position, we put our own people first: In 2023, 41.7% of our vacancies were filled by Azelis employees. By doing this, we encourage talent development opportunities: local, regional, and international moves, career advancements, and job rotation, which facilitate the effective utilization and development of talent within our organization.
We recently set up our first Center of Excellence in L&D, not only to install learning tracks and training programs for our teams, but to overall foster a culture of lifelong learning and continuous improvement, strongly encouraging knowledge-sharing and cross-collaboration.
Retaining talent is also about nurturing. We have launched a mental health and well-being program with which we want to reduce stigma and help preserve a healthy work-life balance among our workforce.



Azelis Corporate Services NV

12 box 6, Posthofbrug
2600 Antwerpen

+32 3 613 01 20