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Treating symptoms naturally

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By focusing on these three core areas of activity, Hänseler AG has been able to establish itself as a leader in the Swiss market. “Most of the 1,700 pharmacies and 600 drugstores in Switzerland are our customers,” says CEO Dr. Dominik Hauser. “Furthermore, we have an industrial customer base that reads like a who’s who of the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetics industries.”

Indeed, the production of pharmaceutical raw ingredients accounts for 55% of Hänseler AG’s annual turnover. “Here in Switzerland we are the clear market leader for raw materials such as pharmaceutical-grade alcohol, essential oils and herbal extracts,” says Dr. Hauser. “Our expertise in this area dates back to the company’s beginnings and its credo at the time. When the company was founded by Edwin Hänseler in 1964, a real emphasis was placed on customer proximity. The philosophy was to listen to customers and their needs, and then ensure we could either produce what they wanted ourselves or obtain it from somewhere else. The motto then was ‘If Hänseler doesn’t have it, then no one does’.”

In accordance with this philosophy, Hänseler still fills gaps in its own product range with those of trusted partners. The company is the official distributor in the Swiss market of raw materials made by international partners, for example manufacturers of vitamins and vitamin blends, essential and neutral oils, and companies with a similar range of activities to Hänseler and offices across the globe.

Hänseler’s second business mainstay is the manufacture of its own brand of over-the-counter medications and cosmetics, which accounts for 35% of turnover. Amongst its best-known brands are best sellers such as Alcacyl® for colds, flu and pain relief, Gly-Coramin® for fatigue, OLBAS® herbal cold remedies, Probactiol® plus dietary supplements for healthy gut flora and Nieren- und Blasendragées S for irritation of the urinary tract.

All of these products are made from high-quality raw materials to tried and tested formulas and rank among the most popular OTC drugs in Swiss retail. The third area of activity in Hänseler’s successful business model is contract manufacturing. This area accounts for 10% of turnover and allows Hänseler to trade in its manufacturing and filling expertise.

“For many companies, contract manufacturing provides an opportunity to adapt capacity at short notice and also benefit from the partner’s expertise,” explains Dr. Hauser. “We guarantee the required quality standards for our customers in the pharmaceutical, food and cosmetics industries.”

The main focus of the company’s drug portfolio is women’s health, with products for the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections and for easing the symptoms of menopause. However, this focus is not exclusive.

“We recently launched a completely new moisturizing lotion developed specially for tattooed skin called Original Tattoo Creme,” says Dr. Hauser. “We were able to create it together with a pharmacist within a very short time. The ability to respond quickly to customer needs and the short development time to market introduction is something that larger companies usually cannot provide.”

This is where Hänseler wants to emulate its larger rivals: their international reach. Having established itself as a pharmaceutical raw material leader in the Swiss market, the company is keen to expand throughout the EU.

“Foreign sales currently account for just 5% of our turnover,” says Dr. Hauser. “We are targeting not just the European market but also Asia and the Far East. This is no easy challenge but we are confident that, with the support of everyone in the company, we can be successful.”

The CEO is at pains not to compromise the qualities that set Hänseler apart in the pursuit of expansion. “We have to find our own niche in the face of considerable consolidation in the market and the dominance of an ever-shrinking pool of major players. At the moment our small size, and the speed and reactivity that being small gives us, is a key advantage.”

Another factor playing in Hänseler’s favour is its ownership structure. “Our principle shareholder is the Steinegg Foundation, which is based in Herisau and is responsible for encouraging a healthy economic structure in the region,” explains Dr. Hauser. “The support of the Steinegg Foundation is crucial in giving us the security to reach higher.”

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