Addtech & B2B Industrial Distribution | In Practise

Addtech & B2B Industrial Distribution

Former CEO at Addtech Business Unit

Learning outcomes

  • Addtech Culture
  • Competition to Addtech in industrial B2B
  • Growth opportunity and M&A runway
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Executive Bio

Artur Aira.

Former CEO at Addtech Business Unit

The executive has over 8 years within Addtech and Addlife. He is the Former CEO of Addtech’s Life Sciences business unit which was spun out in 2016 and became the labtech division of Addlife. Prior to Addtech, he has over 20 years experience in the healthcare industry across lab diagnostics and medical technology products.Read more

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Disclaimer: This interview is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. In Practise is an independent publisher and all opinions expressed by guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of In Practise.

Maybe you can talk about your background and how you got to Addtech and what you did while you were there?

I have a medical background and I have been working my whole professional career within the biotech, the pharmaceutical industry and also the diagnostic industry. I have worked in all positions from product specialist to sales manager, marketing manager and then CEO for bigger biotech and diagnostic companies like Organon, in the Nordic countries. I then got some missions in the US, in Holland. When Organon was divested by AkzoNobel, half of the company went to Merck and BioMérieux acquired the diagnostic part of Organon and I stayed in diagnostics.

So I became the general manager of BioMérieux in the Nordics and then I moved to France where I was a division manager for a full lab automation, so microbiology actually, and in 2011 I was head hunted to Addtech and I became the CEO of Addtech Life Science. At that time, when I started, Addtech Life Science had 12 daughter companies, so it was very decentralized. Actually, there were 12 CEOs that were reporting to me, and I worked there for 10 years. We took the Life Science part of Addtech and we made a new company – a listed company called AddLife – in 2016.

By the end of 2017, I decided to move back to Gothenburg where I'm from, from Stockholm, and do something else. I have been sitting on the board of 35 companies, working as a consultant for different groups. I had also a mission as CEO for a pharmaceutical company called ABIGO which just finished at the end of 2020 and, since then, I have been helping companies like Cellink with acquisitions because in Addtech and AddLife I did probably more than 25 acquisitions. I have a very good global view of the business in the biotech pharmaceutical, but mainly I think what's interesting is also how the strategic business model works for a company like Addtech. I don't know if you are familiar with Danaher?

Yes.

When we wanted to explain how Addtech works, it is actually a little bit like Danaher. There are certain similarities but also certain differences.

That makes sense. I think we can go into those.

Yes, so this is my background.

Those 12 companies that you ran with Addtech, were they global or are they just focused on the Nordics. What was the market?

Yes, so some of them were global, especially in the medtech industry. We acquired a company called Mediplus and they had business in many countries. Mainly the business was in the Nordics countries. We had probably 70% of the turnover coming from the Nordics and Baltics and also Iceland. Iceland is a very small country, so mainly Nordics and Baltics.

My understanding is with Addtech is that there are kind of three buckets. There's the stuff they distribute and then there's stuff where they do value add, and then there's some of their own products. How did that work with your group? Did you have that kind of mix or what was the product mix like?

Yes, so you can say that 30%, maybe a little bit more, was on production. I will say more than half of the products were OEM and distribution. So the rate between OEM and distribution was probably 50%.

When you say OEM, does that mean Addtech makes it or someone else makes it and you're distributing it?

Someone else makes it for us, exclusively with our brand name and we sell it.

Exclusively. Did your group make anything itself and design stuff itself?

As a matter of fact, Addtech is a company that has existed since 1906, and it was called Bergman & Beving. It was two gentlemen that had the idea, very early on, to grow by acquisitions. They had a lot of subsidiaries and they also got the idea to keep it decentralized. They saw, by keeping the companies decentralized, it's much better for the integration process and also it's much faster to acquire companies. They were very early with this thinking. In 1976 the company went to the stock exchange and, by the year 2000, the company was that big that they split the company into three.

Addtech became one of the companies. The other company was called B&B Tools and the third company was called Lagercrantz. If you also look also what we did in 2016, when we took the Life Science part of Addtech and became AddLife, we did the same. If you count the total amount of companies since the beginning it's more than 500 companies in the group. It has been a very successful journey and a very successful business model as well.

Yes, I think all those companies have done very well. What was the main motivation for splitting AddLife into its own piece and how many companies was it at that point?

First of all, I think my idea was to create more value for the group which had four business legs. You had industrial solutions, energy, components and the first one was Life Science. From an investor perspective, it didn't make sense, because if you want to put money on a dedicated biotech business, then you didn't go to Addtech because, for us, maybe Life Science was growing very well but, for example, components may not have been following the same life cycle as Life Science, because of the conjecture.

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