Like many great entrepreneurial successes, Pure Trade first demonstrated an uncanny ability to rethink its business model when necessary. Created in 1996 to offer customers high-quality promotional items in a variety of sectors - from cosmetics to food and fashion - Pure Trade refocused on beauty in the mid-2000s. This market at the time represented 45% of its turnover. "We quickly gained multi-material and multi-sector experience, but we were in danger of spreading ourselves too thinly," explains Stefane Ladous, the company’s CEO.
Premium beauty and luxury
The decision quickly proved to be a wise one. "It allowed us to reduce the number of suppliers, to gain agility and to make our sales teams more focused, and above all to extend our know-how to secondary and even primary packaging," continues the manager.
Once the financial crisis of 2008 was overcome, the company embarked on a particularly sustained growth trajectory and supplied the most important groups in the sector, including L’Oréal, LVMH, Clarins, Coty, Puig, Interparfums, Shiseido, etc.
Today, Pure Trade caters to over 50 premium beauty brands. The promotional products and packaging businesses account for more than 80% of total sales ($75 million in 2019), with sales equally distributed between the two businesses. The company produces, among other things, party boxes, make-up palettes, advent calendars, travel retail kits, kits, and various gifts with purchase. The remaining 15-20% of the business comes from accessories (brushes) and textiles.
"Our clients are predominantly premium and luxury brands, with stringent requirements in terms of quality, deadline compliance and specifications. The production must be 100% in keeping with the mock-ups and final proofs," explains Virginie Honoré, General Manager.
In addition to respecting quality standards, Pure Trade offers a complete bespoke design service (creativity, design, development, manufacturing, management...), particularly thanks to its Design Studio, which has existed since the company’s early days.
"With our industrial partners, we can offer many services, in different qualities, including very high levels of expertise. We are often entrusted with global campaigns (packs, luggage, accessories, etc.). Sometimes the client asks us to liaise with their pack supplier, and sometimes we even do the assembling using the products purchased by the client," Virginie Honoré continues.
A Creative Lab in Paris
To reinforce its capabilities and save time in the creative process, Pure Trade recently equipped its Parisian headquarters with an additional 100 m2 for the creation of a creative space that is fully operational on September 2021, with a material library, a sample library, and the collection of different projects developed by the company. This new Creative Lab allows people to see, touch, test and experiment with materials and projects.
"It will allow us to save a great deal of time on developments, but also to strengthen the human relationship with our clients after this period of isolation. These are all key success factors for a company that works exclusively on made-to-measure products," emphasises Virginie Honoré.
Reduce the impact of products
While a significant part of the network of partners is located in Asia (China, India), Pure Trade is increasingly developing its sourcing in Europe (Portugal, Spain, Eastern Europe), to meet the requirements of its regional customers in terms of lead times, volumes and CSR. "But cost and know-how constraints can limit the choices. And besides, our suppliers in Asia have developed a great mastery of eco-designed materials," Stefane Ladous points out.
The concern for sustainability has become paramount for both packaging and promotional items. From the design phase onwards, Pure Trade, which is positioned in the 1% of companies assessed by Ecovadis Platinum, proposes solutions to reduce the environmental impact, in particular, the use of alternative materials is being considered. "The use of recycled materials is a booming trend and all the players are making real CSR choices, even if this sometimes means higher prices," continues Stefane Ladous.
Based on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, Pure Trade employs around 65 people and has sales subsidiaries in Barcelona and London, offices in New York and Hong Kong for customers in the Asia-Pacific region and a team in Shenzhen in charge of supervising the sourcing (production and quality monitoring) and customers in mainland China.
Little impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, with sales down by around 5% in 2020, the company expects to return to the 2019 level as of the 2021 financial year.
In the context of a strong rebound in demand, particularly in Asia and North America, Pure Trade intends to continue its specialisation in the beauty sector to strengthen its know-how and product offering, while accelerating its international development, particularly in China, with the opening of a new office in Shanghai headed by Mona Lee, Managing Director of the Group in Asia. The Group will also strengthen its presence in the United States. "We are in contact with suppliers in Mexico to offer a local import service in North America," says Stefane Ladous.