European Business: Mr. Diderich, can ‘green medicine’ really provide a cure for diseases that conventional medicine cannot?
Oliver Diderich: We do not see our treatments as a replacement for conventional medicine but as a more gentle alternative. Just as you wouldn’t use a hammer to crack a nut, you shouldn’t start off with the big chemical guns for a relatively minor problem. Our plant-based treatments are formulated around proven herbal remedies that have been part of the natural medicine cabinet for centuries. Many diseases can be effectively treated with phytopharmaceuticals but without the side effects of conventional treatments. Our products have an outstanding reputation with doctors, pharmacists, alternative practitioners and patients who choose them as a natural first line of treatment for less severe diseases.
European Business: Cesra has been making ‘green medicine’ for over 80 years. What has changed during that time?
Oliver Diderich: Everything that Cesra represents today can be traced back to its founder, Julius Redel. He was a visionary entrepreneur who built the company from the very beginning on the basis of his belief in natural remedies. When he died in 1983, he left behind an expanding and efficient company. In the mid-1990s, the entire company was modernized, and the focus on high-tech production methods continues till this day. However, our product range still focuses on natural treatments although it has been expanded continuously and is now relatively diversified for a company of our size.
European Business: Can you describe your main product areas?
Oliver Diderich: Our core area of expertise is the treatment of inflammatory skin disorders. Under the ilon® umbrella brand, we market a range of creams and ointments aimed at treating everything from dry skin to skin sores. ilon® Salbe Classic has been produced by Cesra since 1929 and contains entirely plant-based ingredients. The key ingredients are larch turpentine and refined turpentine oil. It is a unique product and has proven its effectiveness over eight decades of use. The active ingredients in larch turpentine increase blood circulation to the affected areas, thus promoting healing. It is also a strong disinfectant that keeps the area clean once the puss from the abcess has been drained. Over the years, the ilon® range has been extended with a barrier cream for irritated skin and a moisturizer for dry and sensitive skin. The latest addition to the ilon® product family is ilon® Bodyshave Balsam, which is a soothing balm intended for use after shaving body hair. We also have products to promote digestion, strengthen the immune system, combat venous insufficiency and treat bladder dysfunction as well as specific products to regulate the female hormonal cycle.
European Business: Can you tell us about the Redel Foundation and what it stands for?
Oliver Diderich: The Redel Foundation was set up after the death of the company founder to fund and support charitable projects around the world. It reflects the company’s commitment to humanitarian issues.
European Business: Mr. Diderich, you took up your post a year ago. What strategic changes have you implemented since then?
Oliver Diderich: On the one hand, our focus is on developing pharmacies as a sales channel. Competition is getting stronger as less money can be made from generic medications. Pharmacies already complement their dispensing activities by stocking cosmetics and OTC treatments. We have to ensure that our product range fits in with this concept. Another important market for us is China. We started our business there about 20 years ago, and the market is developing strongly as a result of our new export strategy, which capitalizes on the Chinese interest in traditional medicine.
European Business: What are your plans for the future?
Oliver Diderich: We will continue to expand our export activites. At present, 60% of turnover comes from exports to Europe, China, the Middle East and Russia. We hope to break into new markets by addressing the highly relevant therapeutic areas of dermatology and gynaecology using our umbrella brands ilon and Feminon, respectively.
European Business: Mr. Diderich, thank you for the interview.