#Supply Chain#Manufacturing

How McPherson’s Consumer Products establishes long-term relationships with employees and partners

Amber Donovan-Stevens
|May 18|magazine13 min read

McPherson’s Consumer Products (MCP) is an Australian Health Wellness and Beauty brand with a legacy that dates to 1860. MCP is a global company, distributing across Australia and New Zealand as well as in China, Singapore, the UK, Germany, and the Middle East. Aside from marketing and distributing its own brands, it also engages with agency work. MCP is a category leader for several of its brands; Lady Jane and Manicare lead in pharmacy while Multix is the number one brand in the Australian grocery channel. Its company mission is to “create better ways for people and communities to thrive.” According to Brady, “at MCP, we want to challenge the norm.”

Mark Brady has worked at MCP for eight years as the Supply Chain Director. By MCP standards, he is relatively new. His team consists of 90-100 people, subject matter experts in a variety of fields. The average tenure within supply chain at MCP is 18 years. According to Brady: “We leverage off this every single day. The adaptability, learnedness and calm temperament of this group means that whenever we have new challenges, we have experience to fall back on.” Brady’s background in operations has been key to his success in his role at MCP. He is trained in Lean and Six Sigma. The two pillars of success, according to Brady, are the clear ability to define processes and reliable collaborative teamwork. 

Valuing employees has been key to MCP’s success. In its canteen area hang photos of employees who have 10+ year tenure. Leadership and accountability are at the core of creating a positive atmosphere. MCP holds long-service award dinners. Hosted by Laurie McAllister, managing director at MCP, they are attended by senior leadership, board members, partners, and long-stay employees in milestone years of employment: 10, 15, 20, 25 years. “The ability for a company to find and retain staff is so important,” Brady affirms. Being an Australian-business based in Australia means employees are empowered to make decisions that affect the wider company. With 75 people working in the warehouse, safety is another priority at MCP. Its Occupational Health and Safety committee is led by employees. “It is key to us that our employees drive our safety culture,” Brady says, “we want people to go home as happy and safe as they came to work.” 

MCP has been in a process of balanced growth. It is looking to enhance its primary Beauty branch while growing its Health and Wellness arm. In so doing, it aims to maintain its status locally while looking overseas for opportunities. China provides a massive potential market for MCP. There are 24 million people in Australia; there are 240 million people in the Chinese middle class alone. “This growing domestic market and the overlaid China volatility brings forecasting challenges,” Brady notes. “We can have a 12,000 forecast for a given month and then get a purchase order for 90,000 with no warning.” As a solution, MCP turns to partnership with Access Brand Management (ABM), a reseller model in China. Its direct-selling app has 3.2 million people registered. MCP also bought a small share in skincare contract manufacturers Aware Group, to help provide the continuous supply required thanks to its new links to China. The growth has been phenomenal. MCP brand, Dr. LeWinn’s, has gone from selling AUD$300,000 three years ago to AUD$16MN last year, with projections of making AUD$25MN this year. With the help of Aware Group and ABM, MCP manufactured and sold as much product in the months of May and June as it had in the prior 10 months.

“We have tried to align ourselves with key strategic partners with whom we can develop a long-standing relationship,” Brady explains. “Like our staff tenure, we have many relationships that are 10-15 years old.” For shipping, MCP has a 15-year relationship with Mondiale freight. For warehouses, it turns to its 15-year stay with Concept Warehousing. New partners that join supply chain are heavily vetted, with an eye on a long-term future. Partners range from larger companies that can scale to leaner companies that are agile. “Dealing with these many types of suppliers allows the adaptability and flexibility the market demands,” Brady affirms. 

The launch of Dr. LeWinn’s R4 collage, Surge was the fastest and most successful launch in the pharmacy channel to date, brought about thanks to partnerships with domestic partners such as Chemist Warehouse, Priceline & the virtuous cycle created with ABM and manufacturing partners Pharma Cosmetics. MCP has also recently started engaging in joint-venture partnerships, buying 51% of a company’s shares and growing it until it is financially viable enough to be bought out. It acquired a stake in skincare brand Kotia, in tanning brand Sugarbaby, and in wellness company Soulful. “The advantage of joint-venture platforms is that they allow MCP to go from a standing start,” Brady says, “we leverage all our strategic partnerships across a number of key suppliers to enhance the product offering capability in our brands.”

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Quotables

"Dealing with these many types of suppliers allows the adaptability and flexibility the market demands" - Mark Brady, Global Supply Chain Director, McPherson’s Consumer Products

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MCP comes from a history of change. Its origins in 1860 as a hardware and tools store saw it participating in the construction of the iconic Harbour Bridge. Although now operating in a different sphere, this legacy of adaptability continues. Four years ago, MCP was $68MN in debt. It has shrunk that debt to a tenth the size. In the last five years, MCP has exited eight different brands and business arms while inbounding 18 new ones. “It really hearkens to that flexibility,” Brady comments, “to take something that’s new and be able to move forward with it.” Looking to the future, MCP sees growth, balancing domestic and new external customers. It is also in the early stages of considering machine learning and AI as tools for forecasting. “We continue to be on the journey for further success,” Brady says, “if I look at our share price today standing at mid $2.00, four months ago, we were at $0.75. That’s a phenomenal story and I feel proud, as all the supply chain team should, that we can add to that outcome. It’s a great place to work and I am glad to be here.”

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