A conversation with Patrick Heskins

Chief Executive, British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA), Stevenage (UK)

AEROSOL EUROPE: Mr Heskins, for a little more than a year you have been Chief Executive of the British Aerosol Manufacturers’ Association (BAMA). Of which successes in the past year are you especially proud?

Patrick Heskins: It’s difficult to isolate one or two examples, but: the launch of our 2020 Strategy; a different approach to the training courses we offer to our members, specifically taking training in-house to them and offering webinars; and the evening events we have started under the Aerosol Discussion Group banner. We have such a vibrant industry here in the UK and the more opportunities we can create for companies to get together and share new ideas and best practice can only help to drive things forward.

AEROSOL EUROPE: On the occasion of the BAMA Forum in October of this year, you presented your 2020 Strategy. What are the core statements in rough terms?

Patrick Heskins: The Strategy starts with restating BAMA’s core values:

Membership: Strong and engaged membership across the industry supply chain

Governance: Transparency and accountability in Association matters

Finances: Excellent value for member’s subscription fees

Expertise: A knowledge hub for all aerosol industry matters

Advocacy: The voice for the industry with government and other stakeholders

Public Relations: Promotion of the positive and efficient crisis management.

On top of these key actions, we will build on our Future of Aerosols 2 study to help identify the key issues and opportunities for the industry in the coming years. In light of the recent decision by the UK to exit the EU, we plan to work even closer with our sister associations across Europe, with the FEA and to develop relationships with other aerosol associations across the world. We also hope to broaden BAMA’s membership into other areas such as the inclusion of those involved with the transport and distribution of aerosols. Many manufacturers have sub-contracted this part of the business to specialist companies and we want to ensure that the high safety standards the industry has worked hard to develop are maintained.

AEROSOL EUROPE: With an eye on the production figures for the British aerosol market, a record was set this past year. Where do you see additional growth potential in the near future?

Patrick Heskins: Yes, this is true and I am enormously proud of our Member companies. I congratulate them all for keeping up this success over the past few years. The core of the volume filled in the UK is within the personal care sector, mainly in deodorants and antiperspirants, and we anticipate continued organic growth in this area. There has also been growth in other personal care products such as self-tanning sprays, sun screens and dry shampoos and we anticipate this will continue.

The household and technical aerosol sectors continue to be vibrant and we have seen, particularly in the air care sector, customers ‘trading up’ to more premium products. I expect the aerosol format to be a part of this as marketers realise the potential for aerosol products and the positive way in which consumers perceive them.

AEROSOL EUROPE: The UK will very probably leave the EU. What consequences will the “Brexit” have for the British aerosol industry?

Patrick Heskins: I think we were all quite shocked when the UK voted to leave the EU but our Government has made clear that they will follow the referendum result. At this stage it is very difficult to anticipate what the effects on the UK aerosol industry will be as Article 50 has not been triggered and we have no clear idea of either the UK’s negotiating position or what the reaction of the EU will be. I know a majority of our members would like to retain access to the single market but we really are dependent on the politicians to negotiate on our behalf.

AEROSOL EUROPE: BAMA is in close contact with the FEA (European Aerosol Federation). How do these two associations cooperate?

Patrick Heskins: BAMA has a long and harmonious relationship with FEA and, regardless of what happens as a result of Brexit, we will continue to maintain this. Both the BAMA Secretariat and member companies are very active in FEA Working Groups and Task Forces with the ambition to share the in-depth knowledge we have here in the UK with other FEA members and to learn from them as well. We also do our best to represent agreed FEA positions to UK regulators, to get the best possible outcome for our industry across Europe.

I would like to add that Alain D’Haese and Valérie Boulet do a fantastic job representing our industry at a European level. EU regulations can be very complex and the knowledge and understanding the FEA team brings to the table is invaluable.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Harmonization and standardization is always an issue. In brief how is the situation in the UK right now?

Patrick Heskins: As most of the regulations which we have to conform to come from Europe it creates a level playing field for all European aerosol manufacturers which is very welcome. It will be interesting to see if the UK starts to deviate from the EU after Brexit in areas such as chemicals policy, cosmetic regulations and the aerosol directive. That said if the UK regulations were to vary we would still need to follow regulatory activity in the EU, to make sure UK companies know the standards they must meet when exporting.

The UK, because of the way we have implemented the Aerosol Directive, does offer industry a little more freedom as we have “Relevant” and Non-relevant” aerosols within the UK regulations. So, for example, this allows UK manufacturers to market plastic aerosols larger than 220ml as they have to conform to the British Standard. This doesn’t allow these products to be sold outside of the UK but it certainly gives our industry the opportunity to be a little more innovative and experimental when developing new aerosol products.

AEROSOL EUROPE: What channels do you use to communicate with the British aerosol industry?

Patrick Heskins: As well as the traditional methods such as our website, mail shots and e-mails BAMA is developing its social media programme. We have a Twitter account (@BAMA_aerosol) and use Linked In quite extensively. There is a BAMA group on Linked In (British Aerosol Manufacturers Association) where we share updates on industry news, events and new publications and I would like to extend an invitation to all your readers to join our group.

Another recent development, within the website, is our Community Area. At the moment this is mainly being used to store and share minutes and agendas from the various BAMA Committees but we hope to extend this to allow member companies to ask questions of the industry, taking in to account the restrictions which are created by competition law.

To target a wider audience we also work with a Public Relations Consultancy team which ensures that BAMA communicates key messages effectively with the media as well as opinion formers relevant to the aerosol industry.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Next year, the Indian, Mexican, and Chinese aerosol associations will hold their aerosol congresses. Where will we see you?

Patrick Heskins: I would like to be able to attend all of these; however, our budget is not limitless.  I hope to attend the congress in Mexico as this is an area which may well offer great opportunities for UK exports and also for the development of strategic partnerships with manufacturers in that region. I hope to explore these opportunities further.

AEROSOL EUROPE: What topics in the British aerosol industry must be treated with priority in the near future?

Patrick Heskins: Inevitably, Brexit will be something which will occupy all of British industry over the next few years. However, I hope that whatever agreement the UK makes with the EU it will open up new opportunities for the British Aerosol industry to look beyond Europe and to develop new markets.

We will also keep very close to new regulatory demands and, in particular, the Circular Economy initiative from the EU. The aerosol industry has a very strong story with regard to recycling and I hope this will be appreciated by the regulators. Both steel and aluminium aerosol cans are referred to as “permanently available materials” and are great for recycling. As plastic aerosols develop we need to work with the manufacturers and marketers to make sure that the recycling message is maintained for this new material.

AEROSOL EUROPE: What goals have you set for yourself for the next few years?

Patrick Heskins: BAMA, supported by its members, has always been at the forefront of new developments in aerosol technology. We aim to maintain and encourage this in the future. We have a new initiative in 2017 – an Innovation Day planned for April 18th in Manchester.  This event will highlight new ideas launched within the industry and build on our fantastic foundations for innovation in the aerosol sector.

Beyond this, my remit is to work on implementing the Association’s 2020 Strategy. I know that I will receive great support from BAMA members and the team here in Stevenage as I look to achieve these strategic targets.

AEROSOL EUROPE: Mr Heskins, we thank you for this conversation.