Gerard Raymond, president of LF Beauty

Gerard Raymond, president of LF Beauty

Premium Beauty News - Can you please first tell me a little bit about Li & Fung?

Gerard Raymond - Certainly, Li & Fung is a world leader in the design, development, sourcing and logistics of consumer goods for leading brands and retailers worldwide.

Founded in 1906 in southern China, today we are headquartered in Hong Kong and have more than 300 locations in over 40 different markets. Our network includes more than 26,000 employees and 15,000 suppliers around the world. Our customer relationships, supplier network and operations are unrivalled; we are proud to be the supply chain partner-of-choice for brands and retailers worldwide.

Our product range includes fashion apparel, children’s wear, sportswear, outerwear, handbags and accessories, footwear, beauty, home furniture and décor, home textiles, seasonal products and gifts. Our customer base includes a diverse range of brands and retailers including national brands, specialty stores, department stores, e-commerce, clubs, hypermarkets and off-price retailers.

Premium Beauty News - Quite impressive, indeed! What is actually the weight of LF Beauty in the company?

Gerard Raymond - LF Beauty is a global team with more than 3,000 people in locations around the world. We are formulators and suppliers of packaging, applicators and accessories, and we also have an expertise in filling and point of sale (POS) solutions. We are gradually moving into a leading position in the field of digital technology. We have factories in the United States, United Kingdom, China, Indonesia and Thailand, all which are supported by R&D labs in the UK, China and Thailand.

Premium Beauty News - How is this new organization articulated?

Gerard Raymond - The needs of our customers are clear: they demand continuous innovation, and they need a global response to their requirements. To us this means that customers are looking at ways to differentiate their position and add value to their offerings, they are therefore looking for a partner capable of providing this global response in a timely manner (speed to market is very important) and they expect the highest level of quality. Our new organization takes into account all of these requirements. We are fortunate to operate on different continents, and as I said earlier, this allows us to offer a response capacity in terms of formulations, packaging, applicators, accessories and even POS tools, not forgetting our ever-increasing expertise in the field of connected beauty (select visitors were given a chance to see the concrete applications at the last MakeUp in Seoul and MakeUp in Paris BtoB shows).

Premium Beauty News - You boast being capable to offer solutions across the entire "Beauty" spectrum!

Gerard Raymond - We don’t boast, we prefer to highlight that we have solutions in the area of perfume, skin care, hair care, oral care, make-up and so on. We cover all of the beauty product categories and to illustrate this we have recently made investments in both formulations as well as manufacturing capabilities for facial masks, one of the fastest growing categories in skin care, these capabilities will come on stream in Quarter 4 of this year.

Premium Beauty News - Your partnership arrangement with Korean company Cosmecca also proves your desire to work with top players in the sectors you are targeting!

Gerard Raymond - I’m sure that you are aware of the fact that South Korean companies have become the benchmark for innovative skincare products in Asia. We want to give our customers the possibility to access the best of South Korea’s formulation and manufacturing sector. Cosmecca is one of the leading beauty suppliers in the country, so it was only natural for us to collaborate with them.

Under the terms of the agreement, which was announced in March, we will be able to build on the combined strength of our R&D teams and production capacity in South Korea, China, Thailand, the UK and Indonesia. The two companies will also pool their marketing resources behind new products and existing ranges and maximize the business opportunities among Li & Fung’s customers in Europe and the United States.

Premium Beauty News - Another topic on which your company is consistently working is that of the development of all the tools enabling you to take a leading position in the field of connected beauty!

Gerard Raymond - We see it as the biggest challenge for the beauty industry in the coming years. In the future, with artificial intelligence, it will be possible to go even further and correct our image in real time. As our team demonstrated at MakeUp in Paris in June, it will be possible to integrate a voice speaking application to our tools to listen to both beauty tips and health tips. Bathroom mirrors will conduct diagnosis along with comparisons over time. We will be able to virtually try our wardrobe and our accessories and share our experiments on social media. We will have our 3D holographic clone. While some applications are still some way off, others are just around the corner. We have already designed projects implementing digital related technologies for a number of leading brands. Technology is the first step and we can use it to attract customers’ attention, however, what really should come first is to have consumers cooperate with brands, to get them to play, surprise them and most of all, to thoroughly test it before launching a technological solution. Interfaces must be intuitive and quickly capture attention to trigger a purchase. Let me share a specific case study with you.

Last year we developed an interactive application in the form of a game for the launch of Estée Lauder’s new fragrance MYNY by DKNY. For three weeks, interactive displays with motion detectors were installed at Debenhams on Oxford Street. So when someone walked by the store, the interactive screen would invite them to follow the perfume bottle on the digital display. Picture captures of the passers-by were then given inside the store where they could then share them via social media. It was a really engaging and fun consumer experience.