Multi-million-pound cosmetics investment from French-owned Seqens is a Teesside success story

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

A state-of-the-art cosmetics ingredients plant in Billingham marks the dawn of a new era for Seqens – previously Chemoxy – on Teesside.

More than £10m has been invested in the new plant – an impressive addition to Teesside’s industrial skyline, with its stainless steel reactors, vast pipelines, large distillation column and storage tanks.

The plant will produce chemicals known as diols, which are already made by Seqens on Teesside and are widely used as emollients and preservative boosters by multinational players in the personal care industry. 1,2- Hexanediol, 2-Ethylhexylglycerin and Caprylyl Glycol can be found on the ingredients list of a wide range of everyday products such as creams, lotions, cosmetics, shampoos and conditioners.

Diols also go into that must-have product we have all become more than familiar with in the past year – hand sanitiser!

Alastair Lloyd, commercial director at Seqens custom specialties, said: “We have already provided hand sanitiser to the NHS and this expansion helps continue the fight against Covid, with the wider Seqens group making other critical materials including paracetamol and Isopropanol.

“When the business was sold to French owners, one of the first things they did was approve this expansion, so their belief in the people of Teesside is pretty evident.

“The new plant is a stunning construction and it’s a credit to the team that’s been working on it and those who put the business case together.”

The facility, which represents the single largest investment Seqens has made on its UK sites, will allow the company to more than double its production of key ingredients for the cosmetics market.

The firm has already seen a significant increase in anticipated sales in the last year as it establishes its reputation in the cosmetics ingredients market with materials of the highest quality and service levels.

Seqens CEO Helen Webster said:

“Our plans for the future of the business anticipate continued growth in a number of market sectors, so we see this expansion as only part of the journey, rather than the final destination.”

She added the building of the new plant was contracted out to various local companies, employing skilled tradespeople on Teesside. It is also set to create 15 new jobs including opportunities for three apprentices plus further work in the supply chain to distribute the products globally.

“We have a very strong culture of taking on apprentices and a lot of our people in senior plant positions have come through apprenticeships, so that’s a really important part of the business to us,” Helen explained.

“I would also like to personally thank all our team involved in the build and, of course, other key stakeholders including the Tees Valley Combined Authority, mayor Ben Houchen and Middlesbrough Council for their continued support.” “However, personal care formulations still need to be protected from bacteria, mould and yeast and diols offer some antimicrobial efficacy.

We can therefore see continued and significant growth ahead for our products, which is why we have built a plant on the scale that we have.”

Alastair says the new plant is coming online for commissioning now and he hopes that by June, it will be in commercial production.

He said: “It is great to be part of a firm investing in the chemical industry in the UK.

“The industry has seen too many closures in the UK, so the fact that we have actually put steel in the ground and we are growing is great to see and the whole team is proud to be a part of that growth.”

Andrea Stephens, commercial manager for cosmetics ingredients, says that while the beauty industry is much like fashion with trends that come and go, the market for sustainable, green, paraben-free products is “here for the long term”.

She said: “A lot of studies have found traditional preservatives such as parabens to have some toxicity and these are now widely restricted in the cosmetic market.