Interview with Jerome Benoit

Face2Face
Jerome Benoit
Jerome Benoit
CEO
Delta Plus Group
Delta Plus Group

Developing countries and especially BRICs are having a fast growth. They are implementing their own standards and norms in terms of PPE...
Jérome Benoit, Delta Plus Group’s CEO opines about the growth in developing countries during an interview with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Manushi Gandhi. Synopsis: Delta Plus Group is into designing, standardizing, manufacturing and distributing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Established in 1977, the group makes products like disposable clothes and accessories, garments protecting against cold, protective technical clothes, high visibility clothes, high tech and para-aramid gloves, textile gloves, head wear and many other such products. It is listed on Paris stock exchange since 1999 and has 8 production sites and 20 distribution subsidiaries across the globe. Jerome Benoit was appointed CEO of Delta Plus Group in 2011. He joined Delta Plus Group, a company founded by his father Jacques Benoit in 1977, first of all he worked as a financial controller in 2006. Mr. Benoit graduated from HEC School of Management, Paris. Excerpts:

Delta Plus is making Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) since last 30 years. How has the market trends changed over these years?

The market of PPE has been moving a lot for the 30 last years. The main reasons for this evolution are regulations and norms. 30 years ago norms for protecting people at work were only present in few countries such as USA and Western Europe and most of the time they were not really respected. Through years authorities realized that working in a safe condition was important and took measures to be sure people actually wear PPE. Suppliers had to adapt this trend proposing quality equipment complying with the security demand: each time more comfortable and more protective and of course with a reasonable cost.

What are the essential types of fibres requires in making protective apparels?

You can find all kind of fibres in PPE product. The most common is simple cotton or polycottonused in classic workwear. But more and more technical fibrescan be found to provide users more security. We use treatment on fibres (cotton mostly) to make fire retardant workwear, we use non-woven fabrics to make chemical resistant overall used for instance in laboratories, we use reinforced fabrics resisting to abrasion such as cordura for certain sensitive areas of the workwear such as knees or end of the trousers. Finaly we not only use fabrics for garments but for almost any family of PPE: for instance we use para-aramid for anti-perforation in modern safety shoes to replace steel plates inside soles when one step on a nail for instance, we also use it in hand protection to make cut resistant gloves.

The fuel costs are rising at a faster rate. Do you think it has affected your business anyway?

The price of transportation coming for Asia is around 10% of the cost of a standard work wear uniform. And obviously the more you go on a technical and high value garment the less transportation represents. So far main suppliers for ppe are China and India but we are definitively looking each year if a different part of the globe could be more efficient. So far we did not find better places but looking at longer terms we believe that more and more we will have a regional organization for PPE market: Asia Producing just for Asian market, Africa and East Europe producing for European markets and American countries for their own markets. Managing the supply chain and prices will become a key of success in our business.

There is a lot of research and development work required in making protective apparels. What the percentage you insist in spending on R&D?

R&D is a key issue for PPE market. If you want to differentiate yourself from the competition and if you want to target the most profitable segment of the market where protection is a necessity for workers you have to invest in R&D. In Delta Plus we invest between 1,5% and 2% of our turnover into R&D. We work around 2 axes to propose our customer innovative solutions. One is the product view divided in 5 families: head protection, body protection, hand protection, foot protection and fall protection, where our experts define design and test tomorrows PPEs. The other is the material and technical expertise coming in support of the product with a team divided between fabric experts, plastic injection experts, mechanical experts and chemical expert. All together it is more than 25 people involved in R&D in the group.

The need of protective apparel varies from client to client. How can this be managed efficiently?

Our job is to be safety experts and to adapt any situation. That is why we always start by analyzing the work environment to make a sales proposal. We try to explain and simplify the more we can. If you look at our catalogue you will be able to find a protective solution by 3 different kind of entry: whether you are trying to protect a part of your body, trying to protect against a given hazard (such as heat, cold, radiation etc.) or trying to protect in a given job (such as electrician, gardener etc.). Each entry can be combined with the other at any time to match exactly with our client needs.
Published on: 07/10/2013

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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