Alfa Chemicals

Company information

  • Website: www.alfa-chemicals.co.uk
  • Sector: Wholesale of chemical products
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Revenue: €150M to €250M 

Alfa approach

For companies required to act fast and adapt to market changes, less is often more. Alfa Chemicals, distributor of specialty chemicals to the industrial, pharmaceutical and personal care markets, has understood this since its inception in 1976. "We are a relatively small organisation with a very short decision-making chain and this allows us to react quickly when opportunities arise," says Mark Walker, CEO of the UK-based company. It ships a vast array of products, many of them household names, to stores across the UK and Ireland and into the Nordic region.

"We have demonstrated that our suppliers and customers remain our key focus"

It may be a small fish in an ocean of big competitors, but Mark sees this as an advantage. Convincing suppliers of the benefits of working with a smaller distributor was tough, but many have been won over. "We have demonstrated that in a company of our size our suppliers and customers remain our key focus. Our business has grown in difficult conditions because we recognise the desire of both our suppliers and customers to reduce the complexity of their supply chain."

In addition, Alfa has stood strong in its refusal to follow some competitors in making dramatic cuts to their sales teams in order to fend off ever-present financial scares. The decision of Alfa’s management to maintain a small employee base has in fact allowed it to grow. Its operations in the Nordic region, although new, have ambitious growth targets, and the company expects to bolster staff numbers by 10% in the coming two years.

  • 50% – More than half of Alfa’s employees work in sales, marketing or customer service

Mark says the secret to success is to focus on what a company knows it is good at and avoid becoming distracted. "In Europe there is a danger that the administrative burden can increase costs and slow a business down," he says. "Our suppliers and customers are under pressure to reduce costs and simplify their supply chains. This is an opportunity for us."