Amplitude’s success abroad depends on its ability to offer alternatives to the american majors
For Olivier Jallabert, the founder and current CEO of orthopaedic implant specialist Amplitude, international growth is an opportunity to set his company apart from the major American laboratories.
“In the field of healthcare, there is a real “Made in France” brand, just like there is for wine!” says Olivier Jallabert, Amplitude’s founder and current CEO. The French orthopaedic implant specialist rapidly began to generate a small portion of its turnover abroad, through opportunistic partnerships with retailers in various countries. But it was after reaching critical mass on his domestic market that Olivier Jallabert “looked at international growth more closely“. It was a good move: Amplitude now generates more than 30% of its turnover outside France.
Amplitude’s international growth strategy is targeted at countries in which the surgical industry is sufficiently sophisticated. Among them are Germany, Brazil, Switzerland, Australia, Belgium, Japan and the United States, where Amplitude has opened seven subsidiaries in 18 months. “In countries that offer us real potential, we create subsidiaries, usually by buying out our established distributor“, explains Olivier Jallabert. “We acquired the Brazilian company Unimplant in partnership with MDT, Amplitude’s established distributor in Brazil. In the US, we set up a distribution partnership with a renowned local company, with whom we created the subsidiary US Amplitude Inc“, he says.
To help get its implants, which fall under the most highly-regulated category of “class 3 implantable medical devices“, onto the market, Olivier Jallabert bestowed Amplitude with a new foreign registration department. “Having our products approved can take three to four years. We have to monitor the entire process. We have just obtained our first FDA (Food and Drug Administration) registrations“, he explains.
As well as the importance of the new processes in effectively managing the complexities of international growth, the dynamic CEO emphasises the selection of the individuals who will lead the strategy internally: “It is first and foremost a question of people. Without the right people, I would have had great difficulty managing this phase. Amplitude’s first success lay in managing to attract talented individuals to oversee our international expansion“. Among them was Jean-Christophe Vial, former head of Johnson & Johnson’s Europe division, who “breathed life into the culture of international growth within the company” and Philippe Garcia, Amplitude’s CFO, who “put in place the financial structures to take on the costs associated with this growth“.
To ensure an expert approach to its foreign acquisitions, Amplitude called upon Apax Partners. Olivier Jallabert cites the financial plan that supported the company’s external growth: “We set up a somewhat complex structure: joint ventures with deferred split purchase. Apax Partners’ support helped us make our acquisition procedures more credible by applying a highly professional process“.
Now that Amplitude has expanded abroad, Olivier Jallabert is focusing on the interconnectivity of his subsidiaries, with the goal of strengthening the group’s competitive advantages. “In November we held the first International Subsidiary Meeting, which brought together in Paris the CEOs and CFOs from all of our subsidiaries in Paris. It was an opportunity to meet and put our heads together“, he explains. He continues: “International competition is fierce, especially from the major American laboratories. Amplitude’s success depends on its ability to offer alternatives to these majors, through our technological know-how, services, reactivity and adaptability. We proved that we could succeed thanks to these innovations, by providing surgeons with cutting-edge services“.
The CEO, who is closely involved in managing international operations, describes a day-to-day punctuated by trips to the four corners of the globe. “International growth is very time-consuming. I travel around the world five times a year and spend an average of one week a month abroad. You have to have a solid family behind you, as it’s a real commitment.” He concludes with a smile: “International growth is first and foremost a passion… you can’t force it!“.