Interview with Ulrika Björk

Ulrika Björk
Ulrika Björk

Demand For Antimicrobials Increased During SARS
In these times of doom and gloom there are few enterprises that confidently report a good quarter. Polygiene, a market leader in stay fresh and odour control technologies for clothing, sports equipment, lifestyle, textiles and other materials, riding on the demands of the ongoing pandemic, is one such company that has posted a +37 growth over last year this Q2. Polygiene CEO Ulrika Björk explains how Polygiene’s knowledge of anti-microbial treatments is helping it make more effective treatments in the covid-19 era where protection from the killer virus remains a priority.

What is the market size of antimicrobial treatments? At what rate is the sector growing?

It is very difficult to say as it is indeed growing - in three ways. The first is the growth of the players themselves. More central to us is the penetration of a given brand itself - the size of the share with the brands collections. And third, for all the new applications and customers coming in - before 2020 there were almost no antimicrobial facemasks for instance. Facemasks alone are estimated to be a USD 21 billion business by 2026.

Your inception happened during the SARS pandemic and today there is another pandemic the world is witnessing. How has your previous experience helped you come up with new technologies in the current scenario?

Our knowledge and experience in the anti-microbial business is the foundation of our company. We exist because of SARS, when the demand for anti-microbials increased. When the novel Coronavirus started to spread, we could very fast adjust and pick up old test data and formulations.

How are you set to leverage the changed customer behaviour in the covid era?

Polygiene is not only about the function, the communication around the function is as important to us. Our strength is our brand that we have built for Stays Fresh technologies. We support our partners with the co-branding and communication they need, and our brand is an assurance for quality and compliance.

As an ingredient brand, what steps are you taking to reach out to as many geographies as possible? What is the target set in this direction?

We have a range of support and communication tools for consumers. First, fact sheets, Q&A and the likes for consumers who want to know more. There are training materials for online retailers. Press and other stories as materials to push the longer - and important - stories on environmental impact of less washing and discarding of clothes. We also do cooperative campaigns with our brands. Often these have really high return in investment -- they simply sell way more than they invest. This way we grow organically with our customers.

Any steps to reach out to the consumer directly?

We are reaching out to customers through our brands and support them with the right messaging and communication. We also invest in social media to reach the end consumer directly.

What percentage growth have you seen in the last couple of months vis a vis the same period last year?

We have announced official growth for Q2 at +37 per cent over last year. These are great numbers since you need to consider the lockdown in many of our production countries.

What next in pipeline? Which are the new collaborations happening? How do you want to expand your product basket?

Some new collaborations will start right away but most big things still follow the seasonal cycles of course. It is exciting and interesting to see new categories previously not very interested in antibacterial treatments now needing it. Take Fossil for instance, who make a lot of personal items that are always on your body as you scurry around town. Keeping those things protected from viruses is probably a really good idea!

What are the landmarks in terms of growth that the company has seen over the years?

I would say we have several milestones - first we became a leader in outdoor and sports, then we entered the lifestyle and fashion market. We became global in reach and scope. Also, we went from a single brand and technology to the present when we have three distinct offers and strong brands built around Polygiene Odor Crunch and Polygiene ViralOff.

Do you have any antiviral product applicable on home furnishings, footwear, bags etc? What is the process for footwear, bags and the like?

Yes we cover all types of textiles, all from garments and home textiles to bags and shoes. We can also treat foam and other hard surfaces if that's part of the product.

How do you customise your treatment methods according to your partner's production method?

Our treatment is simple and straight forward and can be applied to the existing production process, preferably at the finishing stage.
This article was first published in the August 2020 edition of the print magazine.
Published on: 20/08/2020

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

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