"When you observe such a sharp and rapid decline in a market like nail polish and when you see that it is not only cyclical but structural, not that many solutions are available, you have to change gear and make the right decisions," explains Jean-François Harpes, President of IL Cosmetics. Some solutions had already been implemented in the past by the Luxembourg firm. Like for example, the diversification towards make-up products started as early as 2003, or in terms of logistics, with the decision to relocate the filling and packaging operations in more competitive countries (Poland and Bulgaria).
"As you know," says Jean-François Harpes, "we haven’t stopped modernizing our historic industrial site in Luxembourg by increasing its capacity. We also have a new R&D centre. But at the same time, we absolutely needed to increase our filling capacity. This allowed us to double the size of our Polish factory and to open a brand new production site in Bulgaria. This site also has an oversized logistics platform. A unit which can be used to package other products in our make-up range, especially mascaras and lip gloss, and which will also enable a future expansion for the production of nail polish and gel polish."
In Poland (25 packaging lines over a 12,000 m² production area), the firm mostly packages nail polishes and some make-up products. While Bulgaria (10,000 m²) is more focused on the packaging of make-up products.
Gel polish and make-up
"Regarding the nail polish market, the finding is clear and irrevocable. Gel has become unavoidable. Its development has radically changed consumer habits. It obviously changes the quantities of nail polish produced in the world. We therefore decided to offer a complete range of Gel Polish. Compared to other popular products on the market, our products offer the same glossiness, holding power and ease of removal but at a much more competitive price. One of our strong points is that our colour approach allows us to offer the entire nail colour sample library (seasonal, trend editions, special effects...) in a gel polish version," details the Head of IL Cosmetics.
As for the make-up approach, Dr. Christophe Delas, Head of the Luxcos entity, wanted it to be specifically focused on the lips, eyes and face. Mascaras developments for example focus mostly on volume with a clear R&D work to increase separation / definition. In general, whether for cream mascaras or waterproof mascaras, vegan products add up to the performances mentioned above. "On the side of lip products, whether for long-lasting matte formulas or glossy formulas, the R&D work (formula and / or colour) is based on common guidelines. That is to say, always more payoff and comfort, and gliding formulas, that remain homogeneous upon application," he explains. "For matte formulas, we are working on products that do not dry the lips. For glossy formulas, again we must avoid both a feeling of heaviness and a thick or sticky film and work on an optimum shine. Note that we are also working on formulas that blur lip imperfections or even give them a plump effect (without using ingredients that give a stinging sensation). Finally for foundations, what matters is the holding power and comfort with a strong skincare orientation."
Made in Luxembourg
This is obviously a "key asset". The Luxembourg firm is keen to highlight its Made in Luxembourg expertise, which, according to Jean-François Harpes, allows a perfect balance between rigour and creativity. "We have invested a lot in this area," he says, "by creating a real pole of colour expertise for all the products in the Group’s portfolio, by creating independent Marketing / R&D Business Units for each product category, the whole of it in a multicultural environment (marketing and sales) which is a real plus to understand the needs of the different markets. As for rigour, the fact that all the products manufactured are in strict conformity with European regulations is a real seal of guarantee. It is a batch to batch guarantee of reproducibility. It is also a commitment to quality through a complete system of procedures and of objectified consumer panels. It is finally also the proof of an industrial know-how and of a full service approach enabling to offer Made in Luxembourg products at a very competitive price."