Premium Beauty News - Quite an extraordinary story!
Reinold Geiger - You are right! It is amazing! But it is only the result of a great work in common of the 8,000 Group employees and of a distribution network of nearly 3,000 stores across 90 countries. Just like all great stories, it begins with a meeting, that of Olivier Baussan. This meeting took place in 1992. A few decades earlier, Olivier, a 23 years old literature student, was busy distilling essential oils from Provence plants: rosemary, cade, lavender and olives. At the time he used to sell his creations on local markets. In 1976, he partnered with the chemist Yves Millou to create the brand "L’Occitane". In 1977, "Le Relais Occitane" the first store of the brand opened in Manosque in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department. In 1981 the first "L’Occitane" factory opened in Provence in the town of Volx. Then in 1992 the first Paris store was inaugurated. The same year, the company opened its capital. I first invested in 1994 and then in 1996 in this company who as you may recall was on the verge of bankruptcy. In 1996 and 1997, we opened our first stores in New York, Hong Kong and Tokyo and started to develop the distribution network in France and abroad.
Premium Beauty News - What makes L’Occitane so unique from the start?
Reinold Geiger - One of the strengths of the brands owned by the Group is their dedication to creating effective cosmetic formulas from naturally derived ingredients. Year after year, the R&D teams share this ambition, while also ensuring that they respect the values of the brand. From the sourcing of botanical ingredients to the extraction and characterization of active molecules and effectiveness tests on the skin, the R&D teams of the Group work together in perfect synergy to offer the very best of plants, and to guarantee optimal quality and traceability (from the harvesting site to the finished product).
Pioneers in natural beauty care, our laboratories launched a cosmetogenomics programme in 2009, to demonstrate and validate the effectiveness of active ingredients at the heart of cells. With an innovative development department that is able to create over 400 innovative formulas per year, we are renowned for our skincare expertise.
Our team consisting of more than 100 researchers specialized in 20 different scientific disciplines, works on the development of new formulas. Patents for these formulas, demonstrating the effectiveness of the natural active ingredients, are regularly filed.
Premium Beauty News - Innovation is at the heart of your strategy...
Reinold Geiger - Thus, every year, almost 20 million euros are dedicated to our innovation centre that covers more than 2,500 m2. In recent years our investment in research and development increased at twice the rate of the Group’s turnover, thus demonstrating our commitment to research and innovation. The centre is home to ten laboratories: molecular and cellular biology, analytical chemistry, plant extraction, microbiology, sensorial analysis, clinical evaluation, and three formulation laboratories (prospective, skincare and personal care).
Across the Group, we have invested industrially speaking more than 120 million euros in the past two years.
Premium Beauty News - This year’s results are particularly good!
Reinold Geiger - We are delighted to report a remarkable growth for the year, backed by our continuous commitment to a balanced focus on revenue growth and investments. We will continue to pursue our corporate strategy of achieving sustainable growth with greater efficiency. L’Occitane’s evolving culture and innovative capability allows us to remain adaptive and attractive in the ever-changing global consumer markets. Looking ahead, the global macro-economic outlook may remain challenging, particularly with currency volatility. In order to further enhance the core L’Occitane brand awareness in global markets amidst the uncertain and ever-changing retail environment, we plan to implement a marketing program in the new financial year. We believe that a focused and disciplined approach to build the company for the future, together with the policy to reward management on a basis which is aligned to sustainable long term performance, will drive growth and deliver lasting value in the interest of the shareholders.