Premium Beauty News - What have been the innovation landmarks of 2008 regarding the fragrance business within the Clarins group?

Joël Palix - The two main events for Clarins Fragrance Group in 2008 were the launch of Parfums Corps, Angel’s new bath line, and the launch of the Porsche Design fragrance.

Joël Palix, President of Clarins Fragrance Group

Joël Palix, President of Clarins Fragrance Group

The Parfums Corps line is a true innovation, regarding both the formula and the packaging, it’s a real breakthrough on the fragrance. You know how difficult it is to address such a challenge on that saturated market. We’re making a bold statement.

This story started from the very simple idea of creating a new generation of fragrances that would materialize into various textures. We invented a line of perfumes for the body that we named Les Parfums Corps, it’s a real breakthrough compared to the perfumed bath lines currently available on the market.

As per the formula, the molecular system IDS, for Intense Diffusion System ®, is a brand new technology developed in exclusivity with Givaudan’s perfumers, which can inflect the olfactory behavior of Angel to enhance its power.

Regarding The Essence by Porsche Design, the main challenge was to comply with the stringent “German-like” specifications stipulated by the brand owner. On the one hand, we had to place the entire spray cap (a 7 piece mechanism) into a very small space, and, on the other hand, we had to combine metal and glass, two prestigious materials but with opposite characteristics.

Both the technical and the aesthetics challenges were addressed through the active cooperation between our suppliers I’pack, Pochet, Qualipac and the Clarins Fragrance Group’s Development division.

Premium Beauty News - Forecasts for the year 2009 are not very optimistic. Within such a context, what is your message to the supply side?

Joël Palix - My message is to remain confident. The crisis is similar to the speculative bubble, it is bound to come to an end, and our job implies to think and act in the long run. It’s within a storm that good sailors demonstrate their qualities.

We must carry on cooperating together and we must prepare the future with the aim to increase consumers’ satisfaction. The power of consumers is going to increase further. They will separate the wheat from the chaff. For instance, it is therefore useless to deceive them with a lowered quality.

Through its brands, Clarins Fragrance Group, has built strong relationships with suppliers, and we’ll take care to preserve these links despite the dull economic context.

Premium Beauty News - And what about the Clarins group itself?

Joël Palix - Our group left the stock exchange just before the crisis, thus gaining the possibility to enter into the current economic environment with a broader view, if not full serenity. Clearly, we are now focusing on profitability rather that on an artificial and non-sustainable conquest of market shares. Such circumstances may lead us to delay certain new launches or investments for the benefit of our core brands that have the chance of being well established worldwide, our women’s lines with Thierry Mugler (Angel, Alien) on equal footing with our men’s lines with Azzaro (Azzaro pour homme, Chrome).

Premium Beauty News - Does the current volatility of raw material markets affect your business?

Joël Palix - Actually, current times are not easy times for forecasts, mainly because of erratic modifications in consumer trends, and storage surplus policies, and because of the way the different market operators, particularly retailers, are managing their cash flows. The volatility of raw materials is just another difficulty, but as far as the fragrance business is concerned this factor has a mild impact and I do not think it is a major impediment.

However, supply shortages of some raw materials and the subsequent speculation, I am thinking about patchouli for instance, have a strong impact because they prevent us to safely organize our production. In partnership with our concerned suppliers, we are testing the development of some raw materials in new areas, such as Rwanda for patchouli. Results are encouraging and at the same time they allow us to support the development of sustainable local economies, something that perfectly matches the goals of the Clarins group.

Premium Beauty News - Owners of luxury brands are apparently modifying their supply policy with regard to “full service”. Is it the case of your company and what kind of products is concerned?

Joël Palix - We keep on relying on a classical scheme and do not outsource a too important part of the product’s development. Indeed we consider this job as an assurance for quality and originality. Similarly, we rely on a large choice of perfume creators, as we do not want our brands to be confined in a small olfactory style. Once again, I’m convinced that Clarins Fragrance Group must carry on with the original and, sometimes against the flow, choices that made our previous successes.