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Safc Firms up Business Structure

Sigma-Aldrich unit adds fourth leg with JRH Biosciences acquisition

by Patricia L. Short
September 15, 2005

SAFC, the fine chemicals segment of Sigma-Aldrich, has officially renamed JRH Biosciences, which it acquired in January, as SAFC Biosciences, its fourth discrete segment. The new unit joins the pharma, specialties, and high-tech segments of SAFC.

SAFC President Frank Wicks says his business had 2004 sales of $425 million, and he expects annual growth of 10% or more, thanks in part to the new biosciences business, which is headquartered in Lenexa, Kan. “If all its production vessels were running flat out, it could probably provide the entire world’s demand for powdered cell culture,” Wicks says of the new business.

According to Wicks, in SAFC’s latest five-year strategic plan, the company has set itself a target of 7% per year organic growth. Another 3% per year will come from acquisitions. Overall, he expects to add roughly $350 million to annual sales in five years.

With that kind of growth, Wicks notes, SAFC will become the largest segment of Sigma-Aldrich. About 40% of SAFC’s sales come from what it calls “semi-bulk” products, which are both marketed as such and resold by Sigma-Aldrich’s research division. Of the remainder, half is in small molecules and the other half is in biotechnological media and biopharmaceuticals.

Capacity utilization—running at a rate of about 80%—is “about ideal” now for flexibility, Wicks adds, but the company is considering its options for future expansion.


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