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Interview: Hugh Weston-Smith, Sphere

Financial Director, Sphere

“We prefer subsidiaries to have as much responsibility as possible”

What are Sphere’s fields of work? How is the company structured?

A little more than 35 years after the company was founded by the Persenda family, it became the European leader in household packaging, with around 1,200 employees and a turnover of more than €350m. The products developed and manufactured by Sphere are retailed in large outlets under the name Alfapac or under own-brand – items such as bin bags, cling film, baking parchment, bags for sorting recycling, biodegradable bags, bags for public dustbins, sold to local authorities, to public service corporations and even to the health sector. The company, which originally focused on trade, expanded first into manufacturing, then, during a second phase involving numerous acquisitions, went on to expand geographically, notably to Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain.

The group is composed of about 15 active companies, both industrial and commercial, half of which are based in France.

A new era began for the company in 2005, an era of bioplastics, with the acquisition of the Germany company Biotec, followed by our involvement in a starch production operation together with a farming co-operative; this is to ensure the future development of bioplastics through innovation using natural products –made from cane sugar or potatoes – with an emphasis on the fact that they are biodegradable, compostable or have low carbon footprint. The group is composed of about 15 active companies, both industrial and commercial, half of which are based in France.