Today, April 21st, exactly 30 years ago. We, Jan Brattberg and Mats Grapne, started Kovalent AB. We had to start with completely new suppliers and products in a very tough market. Sweden’s national bank struggled to maintain a fixed exchange rate between the German Mark and the Swedish Crown. However in November 1992, they gave up and the Crown fell uncontrolled. The interest rate went up to 500% for a short period and stabilized later at 16–18%. Despite the situation, we managed through hard work and well established customer relations to get off to a very good start!
At that time the market looked completely different compared to today. The pharmaceutical industry was very strong, with players such as Astra, Pharmacia, Kabi Vitrum and others. They all did research and development in Sweden. Kovalent also developed exceptionally well over the years. To strengthen our product portfolio and market coverage, Skandinaviska Genetec AB (Genetec) was acquired in 1997. Genetec is one of the pioneers in the business of accessories and consumables for chromatography and has been active since 1973. Kovalent and Genetec expanded rapidly and in 2007, with 21 employees, reached our highest revenue. In 2008, we helped Dionex Corporation start Dionex Sweden AB. At this time, Dionex products accounted for 60% of our sales.
Most of our sales during those years were with the pharmaceutical industry. Between 2002 and 2012, a major change took place in this industry. We all watched as the largest companies were sold to foreign players or merged into new constellations. Some companies left gradually, and others closed completely and disappeared from Sweden. Today, only a fraction of the research-intensive companies remains compared to 1992. We have seen the same development with large trade fairs such as Pittcon and Analytica, both of which were many times larger at that time.
This has led to a market with many smaller companies. At the same time, new environmental requirements have led to new opportunities for our customers and for us as suppliers.
As our core business has been built around chromatography, we have had many different suppliers over the years, such as Gynkotek, Dionex and ThermoFisher Scientific. Today we represent Jasco and Agilent in chromatography.
The other strong business area has since the start been sample preparation. We started with Genevac SP Scientific 25 years ago and Milestone Srl about 20 years ago. They are still a very important part of our portfolio.
In recent years, Kovalent and Genetec have been in a new phase of expansion, with sharply increased sales despite pandemics and other types of unrest!
We would like to thank the customers and suppliers who have supported us over the years!
We would also like to extend a big thank you to current and former employees. Without you, this 30-year journey would not have been possible!
Now we continue towards new goals and opportunities!
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