Interview with Christian von Uthmann

Face2Face
Christian von Uthmann
Christian von Uthmann
CEO
Polygiene AB
Polygiene AB

Our greatest contribution is to make consumers wash less

Polygiene odour control technology is the leading internationally recognised supplier of odour control and freshness technologies for clothing, gear and other materials. The company helps strengthen leading outdoor, sports and fashion brands with an odour-free and sustainable approach on clothing and gear. Christian von Uthmann, CEO of Polygiene AB, talks about the growing demand for odour-free clothing and the sustainability angle attached to it.

What is Polygiene's USP?

Polygiene adds value to our partner brands in several ways. The Polygiene treatment makes garments stay fresh longer. This means great savings for consumers in terms of money and time spent, since their clothes will need less washing. The garments last longer, and less washing will of course save energy and water which lessens the consumer's impact on the environment. This consumer benefit creates better sell-through for our brand partners at retail.

The segment of odour control is very competitive. Could you tell us in detail about Polygiene Odour Control Technology? How is it different from other similar technologies?

From a global perspective, Polygiene is the market leader and we are driving the development of odour control technology. Since this is our single focus, we have a very different perspective on what we do and how we do it. We are very aware of our premium brand partners' demand for high quality. For example, Polygiene is a permanent odour control that does not wash away with use and this has been tested and proven. This is why so many top brands choose Polygiene. 

Our technical department is always looking for innovation and different ways for us to improve our product. We are doing this by working closely together with our partners. A great example of this is the new 100 per cent recycled polyester yarn Newlife that was recently launched by Sinterama, Europe's leading polyester yarn producer. The yarn is spun from fibres made of discarded PET-bottles. The fibres are treated and integrated with Polygiene's odour control technology. The Polygiene treatment in itself is made of recycled silver from electronic waste such as broken mobile phones. 

Polygiene's co-branding and sell-through programme differentiates us from our competitors. We work closely with each brand to provide marketing and sell-through support to the consumer, from hangtags to in-store POP to online marketing programmes.

'Wear More. Wash Less'. Please explain the ethos behind the campaign.

This is much more than a campaign to us. It is a mission for Polygiene and a global message to consumers all over the world that we can all make a positive environmental impact by adopting a responsible behaviour when it comes to consumption and use of clothing.

It started with a study in 2009 to show the environmental benefits of washing your clothes less often. As a culture, we over-wash our clothes, and studies show that two-third of the environmental impact of apparel occurs during consumer use, mainly from washing. We want to make consumers aware of their impact and encourage them to wash less frequently. Washing less not only benefits the environment, but also saves the consumer time and money.

How is Polygiene's presence in Asian markets through strategic partnership?

The interest for Polygiene's odour technology is definitely increasing in the Asian market as consumers are discovering the benefits of odour-control. In Japan alone, we have many new successful strategic partnerships with well known brands such as The North Face, Ellesse, Helly Hansen, Danskin, Wacoal, World and Showa Nishikawa. South Korea is also a mature market for us, where we are partnering with ECO Tech, one of the largest manufacturers of eco-friendly work gloves to provide Polygiene-treated cut-resistant gloves. We also just launched with Andar, the country's fastest-growing direct-to-consumer yoga brand. We continue to work with each of our agent partners to grow Polygiene into new customer segments. For example, we have noticed a growing interest from the home textiles industry and Polygiene recently formed a strategic collaboration with the Chinese towel manufacturer ZSH.

What is your take on sustainability? Can you please elaborate on sustainability related projects initiated by Polygiene?

Our greatest contribution to the environment is if we can reach out to the hearts and minds of all consumers and make them wash less. The impact of consumer behaviour is greater than most people are aware of. If they wash less, we save clean water and energy, and the clothes themselves will last longer. We think that it is important to get that message out there. Studies show that only about 7 per cent of the clothes that we consumers wash are dirty - we actually wash our clothes to freshen them up and get any unwanted odours to vanish. This is the way we are working globally with our message - Wear More Wash Less. Also, Polygiene is a silver salt made from recycled silver. Garments that are treated with Polygiene can be recycled as well.

Polygiene is a public company. Can you share with us the financial performance indicators for the last three years and your projections for the next 2-3 years?

In fact, we just recently increased our financial targets for the period 2017-22. According to the new targets, Polygiene will have net sales of more than SEK 400 million through organic growth, and an EBIT margin of more than 20 per cent in year 2022 at the latest. Looking back, Polygiene started to be profitable already in 2013 and sales have been growing ever since. In addition, our worldwide brand recognition has also increased immensely during the same period. A major driving force in the market development is consumers' increasing demand for the odour control function as well as the environmental value that Polygiene's Wear More-Wash Less concept adds to the products. These brand-building environmental messages are used by Polygiene's partner in their co-branding and brand positioning, which in turn gives them additional sales and margins on their products.(HO)
Published on: 05/10/2017

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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