Corrado Ferrozzi took on the position of General Manager at Stoelzle Masnières in 2023. He speaks to Formes de Luxe about his priorities for the historic French glassmaker and the investments underway to transform the glassworks into a “one-stop shop” for luxury brands across the beauty and spirits sectors.
What can you tell us about the financial restructuring underway at Masnières?
The restructuring is tied to the global context of the last few years: the crisis following the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020 and sharp increases in energy prices that emerged at the end of 2021. This situation negatively impacted Stoelzle Masnieres, which had completed an investment of more than €20m for the construction of a new furnace and related production lines during the period. As of mid-April of this year, our energy costs are 200% higher than before the crisis. External financial support allowed for an injection of liquidity and a debt renegotiation; these moves consolidated our financial situation.
What does the restructuring entail?
It gives us the possibility to work on two facets of the business, the first of which is our debt, whose timetable we have renegotiated. [Stoelzle did not disclose financials]. Secondly, our parent company in Austria injected liquidity into the Masnières site, thus increasing our capital by €3m. Both initiatives have returned the company to stable financial footing, and we can now go ahead and develop our investments to sustain growth over the coming years.
How are you allocating these investments?
Development has been somewhat limited at Masnières—a manufacturing company with a long history of glassmaking expertise—and the sustainability and attractiveness factors that this type of business requires were not able to be fulfilled. We are also facing major challenges when it comes to recruitment. We need to make our company more attractive by boosting the work quality, namely to transition from what were mainly manual operations to more sophisticated automated processes. However, this does not entail reducing the workforce. With this in mind, we are replacing all our forming machines to upgrade the technology and guarantee the premium quality that the luxury market demands. Another investment stream concerns our line dedicated to spirits glass, which became operational a few years ago.
How do your sustainability initiatives fit into this strategy?
We are looking to increase the ratio of PCR glass in our production, which currently stands at 11.6%. Our aim is to reach 15% by the end of 2023 for both fragrance and cosmetics and spirits. However, like the rest of the market, we are facing serious shortages of available PCR with a quality that befits our products.
Lightweighting is another priority, as is the development of refillable and reusable jars and bottles and of course innovation in decoration.
Dries Van Noten
Your refillable solution Le Perpetuel launched last year. How has it been received by the market?
We have a strong concept with Le Perpetuel and are making slight tweaks to make it more intuitive from a consumer usage standpoint. Refillable formats are a key part of our sustainability strategy, and the market is demanding more of these kinds of innovations. Our job is to continue offering solutions to move the market forward.
You also aim to develop the decoration capacity at Masnières?
Indeed, this is integral to our strategy of offering a ‘one-stop shop’. We need to localize decoration as much as possible, which means investing in capacity. The fact that we have a decoration site near our glass production entity is not enough, I want it to be within the perimeter of the glassworks itself, which will help us reduce lead times, be more reliable and deliver a higher quality product. Shipping our bottles to decorators far from our factory has too great an impact on the supply chain. The market is strong today, but the ability to forecast is weak. Being reactive and capable of adapting capacity to demand is fundamental today to serve our markets.
In terms of processes, our aim is to boost our lacquering capacity; by the end of the year we’ll launch a line for interior lacquering—a technique that is available on the market, but that is new to us.
Dries Van Noten
From a sustainability standpoint, we have an ongoing study to improve the impact of our decoration techniques, notably in terms of raw material utilization.
Stoelzle Masnières is also able to supply caps and closures and accessories, which again, is part of our ‘one-stop shop’ approach. While we don’t yet manufacture closures in-house, this is something we are looking to in the future. Currently we partner with external suppliers but have a dedicated division in house for these components.
Some brands are looking to glassmakers outside of Europe, such as in Brazil, who can offer drastically shorter lead times. How do you respond to this?
There are two topics here: development and manufacturing. We are quite fast when it comes to development lead times with an average six-week turnaround to get the product on the customer’s desk. Manufacturing is another story. If you place an order today, you’ll be delivered at the beginning of 2024 at the earliest. Unless quantities can be split, the market’s saturation is such that we cannot compress this time frame. This goes for Stoelzle Masnières, but also for our competitors in France.
We’re currently seeing significant growth in the market and being based in France gives us a direct, fast and proactive relationship with our customers. This is something we need to safeguard through investments by continuing to invest and look far into the future, say in 10 years’ time. The potential to develop the spirits market in France coupled with increasing demand from fragrance and cosmetics means there is ample room for growth. But it isn’t just a question of investment, it’s also about people, organization and work quality. We must provide solutions and create needs, not just satisfy needs. I’m talking about glass solutions, but also decoration.