Kevin Vyse-Peacock is a board member of a major Japanese outfit and has taken its products to worldwide markets. Mark Casci reports.
That bedroom belonged to Kevin Vyse-Peacock and was based in Leeds.
The Leeds University graduate was working as the sales director of the healthcare division of Croda International when he came across the US company.
From his spare room Mr Vyse-Peacock brought the business to the United Kingdom 15 years ago and today Lansinoh Laboratories is a worldwide market leader in the breast-feeding and baby products sector supplying into dozens of countries.
Based primarily around lanolin, a naturally occurring wool wax secreted by wool-bearing animals, it has a massive industrial application to women who are breast feeding owing to its properties which help repair and treat skin.
When Mr Vyse-Peacock came across the product in the USA he realised it would be of considerable use to breast-feeding mothers worldwide.
The business was well-founded in America but eventually the decision was taken to develop the Lansinoh Laboratories outside of America, something Mr Vyse-Peacock was charged with rolling out.
Mr Vyse-Peacock summed the product up in a nutshell: “It is a breast feeding product and it is now used all around the world, as well as a number of related products such as shields, pumps and pads.
“We are now serving nearly 60 countries through an export division.
“We have nine overseas offices in locations such as Brazil, Washington, Berlin and Turkey where we now have a large manufacturing facility.”
The business remains headquartered in the United States but the UK division is located in Jason House in the Leeds suburb of Horsforth.
In 2004 the business was purchased by the Pigeon Corporation, the number one Japanese manufacturer of baby, child care and maternity products, which helped facilitate massive overseas expansion, something Mr Vyse-Peacock has been at the forefront of.
The decision to establish the UK operations in the city were simple, Mr Vyse-Peacock said.
“My wife is a medical doctor,” he said.
“We were both working in Leeds and when it came to choosing a location it made sense. Leeds is a good location. We did consider London but when we were looking for offices the location we found in Horsforth was perfect for us.”
Mr Vyse-Peacock has spent the last 17 years taking the product around the world to make it the international player it is today.
“I set up all the distribution outside of the USA, setting up offices in the UK, Germany, Turkey, Brazil, Belgium, France and this year in China.
“The China business is fantastic for us and this year has proved very successful.
“Chinese customers like the product very much.
“There is a lot of money in China at the moment and there is huge expansion potential for the company.
“With the parent company being Japanese, a massive company, a market leader, we have the means to make expansive logistical expansion very successful.”
The company now returns worldwide sales in excess of $100m.
Mr Vyse-Peacock oversaw the development of the Turkish site, based in a place called Izmir.
Accordingly he has spent a great deal of time in the country, living there full time for a significant period, during which time he learnt the language.
This year was a real landmark for My Vyse-Peacock when Pigeon Corporation appointed him to its main board of directors as an executive officer. The appointment represents a massive decision by Pigeon as it is the first time a European CEO has been appointed to the company’s board, which in itself is an extremely rare occurrence within Japanese corporate businesses.
The real joy of the job Mr Vyse-Peacock says is seeing the company grow with a quality product going international.
“I do a huge amount of travelling. I am pushing 500,000 air miles this year. There is a lot of travel. I fly to Japan where the parent company is based every month.
“Working in Japan is fascinating, being a Western person on the board has been really exciting.
“I was fascinated with Japan as a kid so it has been amazing, personally, to be on the board of a large expanding global business that is well-known in the investment community.
“It is a totally different experience. I have learned a lot of patience to be honest.
“There is a lot more time taken in Japan, a lot more emphasis on planning. The company takes a real long-term view. In Japan they are usually looking in terms of a five-year or 10-year plan.”
Mr Vyse-Peacock is currently learning Japanese owing to his place on the Pigeon board.
“There is a real emphasis on quality too, they are totally obsessed by it. I am not saying other places are not interested in quality but there is a greater emphasis there than other countries I have worked in.”
For a businessman operating on a global playing field, Mr Vyse-Peacock remains an entrepreneur at heart, something that is manifested when he talks about what the proudest moment of his career is.
“It was seeing that first tube on the shelf,” he said.
“A lot of hard work had gone into putting it there. It was first stocked at a pharmacy in Leeds.
“And obviously going on to the board of a big Japanese board was exciting.”