The German firm is at a turning point in its development. Historically it has revolutionized the world of mascara by becoming the world leader in the manufacture of injected plastic brushes. And the company continues to innovate in this area. At the same time, it is stepping up its investments in the manufacture of “fiber” brushes and remains the only packaging manufacturer to propose a full-service offer thanks to two filling units. Following is an exclusive interview—and overview—with Stephan Schatz, chairman of the Geka management board and Christian Hauger, senior vice president, head of the Beauty Business from Jean-Yves Bourgeois, Beauty Packaging’s European correspondent.
Jean-Yves Bourgeois: Can you please describe your company, today, in a few words?
Stephan Schatz: In 2017, our turnover reached 171 million euros. We employ some 1,000 people in four production sites, including two in Germany, one in the United States and one in Brazil. And we export more than 69% of our production.
Jean-Yves Bourgeois: What significant industrial investments have you made in the past two years and what are the ones planned in the coming months?
Stephan Schatz: In 2015 we acquired the Oeka Company in Bamberg where we relocated the lacquering and metallization workshop that the company had opened in eastern Germany. We also made great progress in terms of agility and flexibility of bottle decoration (development of a new hot foil-printing process for non-round bottles to be able to create all kind of artworks). We increased our potential in assembly machines in Waizendorf and Bamberg. We also increased our capacity for lip gloss components with integrated production lines (ibm, decoration, wiper assembly). To note also, investments in tooling maintenance and mechanical engineering. Not to mention investments made to update all the injectionmachines and investments in tools and machines in our manufacturing sites of Elgin (USA) and Sao Paulo (Brazil).
Furthermore, we are planning to build a new hall in Waizendorf with 12000 m² and to double the plant size. And we also intend to invest in a new quality laboratory with innovative measurement technologies to meet customer requirements for functionality and aesthetics.
Christian Hauger: In terms of successful investments, I would like to mention in particular the one the Group made in Brazil by building a factory from scratch. Today it produces some 10 million mascaras a year and we have become a key player in this market.
Jean-Yves Bourgeois: This is a time for innovation in all areas of packaging. What innovations have marked the course of Geka in recent years and what will be the next ones?
Stephan Schatz: We offer a unique modular and flexible block building system with endless combination possibilities of bottles, caps and applicators/brushes for lip and eye units with no need for the customer to make investments.
Geka has revolutionized the cosmetics market by offering the world’s first plastic injected mascara brushes with synthetic fibers, which led to the filing of numerous patents. In terms of plastic brushes, we are not working with only one material, but are using different materials. In our Moltrusion or Sandwich technology we are using, for example, two different plastic materials. A hard material is used for molding the brush core in order to provide stability to the brush to comb and separate lashes. The bristles of the brush are made with a soft material in order to achieve great volume results for the lashes and avoid stitching on the eyelid. In the future, we will expand these technologies. But we are not only innovating in terms of molded brushes, our R&D department is also striving to create new fibers for twisted wire brushes and focusing on new packs, decoration techniques, and areas other than color cosmetics.
Jean-Yves Bourgeois: In terms of “market,” how have your products evolved (mascaras and/or applicators) and on which ones do you plan to focus on more in the coming years?
Stephan Schatz: As the color cosmetics market is very dynamic, time to market and novelties are the keys to success. In order to achieve shorter lead-times, we will double our production facility at our headquarters by building a new 12,000 m² hall. We are also very active in terms of innovation and have established a new innovation team. One important topic in this field is digitalization on which we are already working.
Christian Hauger: And let me add that we do not only focus on mascaras, we are also extremely successful in the manufacture of lip gloss and innovated into new technologies to blow-mold, decorate and assemble heavy walled, transparent and square bottles in one integrated production line, of which we now produce several million a year.
Jean-Yves Bourgeois:Makeup and skincare are growth drivers for your Group. What are your assets in this area?
Stephan Schatz: Geka is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of applicators and packaging systems for the cosmetics industry. Because the company has been founded in 1925 in the brush stronghold of Germany, we can look back on a long-term expertise. Our strong global presence with manufacturing sites in Germany, the USA and Brazil including further sales offices, enables us to be very close to our customers and understand their needs, transforming them into products. We continuously work on trends and innovations. Another point that is very important is that we do not only deliver packaging, but also offer shop-ready products. Thanks to our in-house laboratory and filling line, we ensure our customers get products with the perfect interplay between the packaging, the brush and formula as only these can achieve the desired application results.
Christian Hauger: Concerning the share between plastic brushes and fiber brushes, today we are at a 50/50 ratio. We actually have a portfolio of some 400 different patented mascara technologies and designs available. In our “applicator workshops” customers with their marketing, makeup-artists, packaging technicians join us in Bechhofen and we are able to develop new designs and create samples with our machines for fibers and 3D printing. In one day, the brand gets “from scratch” the perfect combination of formula and applicator for a successful launch.
Jean-Yves Bourgeois: You were at the MakeUp in Paris show. What were the key features of the products you showcased?
Christian Hauger: Based on one trend for spring/summer 2019 we have developed the collection nomadicTREASURE. nomadicTREASURE consists of two mascaras, an eyebrow unit and a lip gloss:
The packaging of the first mascara is decorated with a high-grade master batch with a special new type of pigments that achieves the effect of luxurious, liquid gold. The eyes become a feminine statement with the included sunnyEYES brush in conical shape, that combines two special Geka fibers. The white part of the brush is made of the innovative sunshineFIBER, which serves as a real volume-booster. For the pointed tip, the in-house manufactured EOS fiber is used, which ensures a perfect separation. The mascara formulation contains SpymPetides, that lengthens and thickens the eyelashes, and improves the lash growth.
The second mascara conjures up luscious, glossy lashes with the two-component brush lashDIVINE, that is produced with Geka’s 2K Sandwich technology. This technology results in a harder brush core to lift and separate the eyelashes and super flexible bristles for ultimate softness during the application. With alternative rows of shorter and longer bristles, the new two-component brush is conceptualized for extreme volume and definition due to its extra bristles at the tip. The packaging’s fascinating touch of glamour is achieved by special new metallic pigments in the deep ocean shaded master batch, which generate an exciting chrome effect.
Brows get brushed upwards and highlighted with the new twisted-wire brush browGLAM. It is made of the impressive deltaFIBER with triangular shaped fiber edges to improve the definition effect. Its small and conical size is ideal for exactly filled, defined and flawless eyebrows. The filling volume of the packaging fits perfectly for eyebrow and its metallic chrome finish in deep gray picks up the earthy, urban elements of this trend and combines it with metallic elegance.
The light rosé texture gives lips a fresh glossy finish and the look of hyper-real perfection. The diamond shaped applicator jewelKISS ensures a precise contouring and an even distribution of the gloss. Its large application surface enables a comfortable but defined makeup result. The 4-edged heavy-walled bottle gives a high-quality character to the packaging and paired with its cap in metallic chrome green, it creates a supernatural look in modern design.
The collection is completed by two products, that are sourced by Geka’s Accessories division: A double-ended makeup sponge for liquid concealer and a sophisticated pouch in metallic rose shade with a holographic effect.
—From Jean-Yves Bourgeois, Beauty Packaging’s European correspondent
PHOTO:Christian Hauger (L); Stephan Schatz