Industry Leaders Forum: Michelle Miles, Country Manager New Zealand, Diversey

How was 2022 for Diversey? What were the highlights? What were the challenges?

Despite coming to the tail end of the pandemic and everything re-opening there still exists ongoing supply chain challenges, some COVID legacy and some new. For example, the war in the Ukraine, raw material shortages, increased energy costs due to China constraints, transportation, and even limited dangerous goods containers to name a few. Thus, to say we are moving back into a ‘prior to the pandemic’ status I feel is a little premature.

We are also journeying with customers on what their ‘new normal’ ordering patterns will be. In 2020 customers purchased and stored large amounts of hand sanitiser, disinfectants, and disinfectant wipes which consequently lowered 2021/22 sales as these stockpiles depleted.

However, as we move into 2023 and customers are looking to replenish stock. We are finding instead of moving back to pre-COVID purchasing patterns, they may still be in the cycle of wanting to place large orders (to be prepared for any future lockdowns). Therefore, in cases where our valued customers are not too sure of how to communicate their stock needs it has been difficult to forecast.

One of the highlights was our Oxivir Excel Wipes gaining ARTG registration for Class IIb: Cleaning and disinfectant wipe for non-critical medical devices and surfaces (Low level instrument grade disinfectant). Offering our healthcare customers in particular greater protection and further strengthening our infection prevention portfolio.

What have been some of the learnings the company has taken from the challenges faced over the past 12 months?

We realised very quickly despite the fact we are a global company, during COVID international supply was difficult, with each country facing their own local supply chain challenges. In response Diversey ANZ purchased a local manufacturing facility in September 2021.

We are now working tirelessly to expand our local insourced range whilst providing the highest level of quality. This purchase has allowed us to move away from our reliance on global supply chains and provided more security for our ANZ customers.

Nevertheless, you can’t build local manufacture with all that is required overnight and 2022 has been a great learning curve as we work towards insourcing as many products as possible to avoid future spikes and troughs in supply and to protect our customers.

What do you see as the main challenges the market is facing in 2023?

As suppliers we need to be flexible enough to adapt and change with our customers’ needs. Conversely, given the last couple of years it is not easy to predict what next year is going to look like. After three years of unpredictable ebbs and flows the only thing we can say is, next year will different from the last few years, and what that will look like, only time will tell.

What are the company’s main priorities for 2023?

In a word for the ANZ team our priority is ‘insourcing’ and working to build our supply chain capabilities. In February 2023, we will have completed the upgrade of our new manufacturing facility.

This will allow us to continue our investment in innovative solutions with infection prevention (IP) at its core, which we still view as a growing opportunity. In parallel we will be working on our sustainability offerings

Sustainable solutions are what everyone is looking for, whether that is sustainable formulations or sustainable packaging, this is where the future lays, not only for our business, but where the market is heading.

What do you expect to be the big trends of 2023?

Our cleaning and hygiene customers are evolving in their needs and sophistication, thus anything that will create a benefit for the customer is how we see market trends evolve. At the moment these trends continue to focus on sustainability, cost in use and safety to name a few.

How do you see the cleaning industry evolving in 2023? 

The real key is being flexible and working to improve and move forward with customers’ developing needs. That said, with all evolution it is just step wise changes that move us towards our ultimate goal.

What advice would you give to fellow leaders in the cleaning industry?

Have patience and be flexible.

Is there a message that you would like to share with the industry?

Given the last couple of years it is important to remember infection prevention in everything we do. Everyone has experienced first-hand how quickly viruses can spread in the community thus it’s critical we continue to innovate and develop solutions to keep customers’ facilities safe and ultimately, protect their brand.

This first appeared in the February issue of INCLEAN NZ magazine. 

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