With the acquisition of The Garden Fragrance Company, multi-channel retail group Scotts & Co. intends to create a new sales channel for cosmetics, toiletries and perfume brands.

Since 2014, The Garden Fragrance Company has been mailing an 80-page catalogue to several hundred thousand customers six times a year. The catalogue features a broad range of perfumes, room fragrances, soaps, creams, oils, tonics, toiletries and other gifts.

The Garden Fragrance Company is the UK’s only multi-brand fragrance retailer using a mail order catalogue as its main channel of distribution, while £50 million multi-channel retail group Scotts & Co. mails over 35 million catalogues each year and is the UK’s most prolific publisher in this sector.

Doubling the size of the business

Scotts has the largest database of affluent mail order customers in the country and the demographics of their customer file seems perfectly suited to our catalogue. Now that circulation of the catalogue can be extended to the entire Scotts & Co. customer database, the impact is likely to transform the scale of the business. We’ve now laid plans for a doubling in the size of the business in 2021,” said Graham Martin, founder and CEO of The Garden Fragrance Company.

The new development has been welcomed by The Garden Fragrance Company’s current suppliers. Yardley’s head of sales, Dr. Claire Ferguson, said: “Yardley and Woods of Windsor have had a very strong partnership with The Garden Fragrance Company for many years. We are delighted that Scotts & Co. will now continue to provide a wonderful catalogue for our customers to browse and shop from in their own homes. We wish the new partnership great success.

Denis Aaronson, managing director of Heathcote & Ivory, said: “We are delighted to hear of the tie-up between The Garden Fragrance Company and Scotts & Co. We were particularly excited to hear of Scotts’ plans for extending distribution of the catalogue to a large segment of their five million-plus customer file.

From catalogues to sampling

According to Scotts & Co., the acquisition will substantially expand the consumer reach of The Garden Fragrance Company’s own mail order catalogue - giving cosmetics, toiletries and perfume (CTP) suppliers an exceptional opportunity to reach millions of stay-at-home shoppers.

The move will also lead to sampling innovations for fragrance and other CTP brand products via monthly personalised mailings to Scotts & Co.’s customer database of more than five million affluent, ABC1 consumers—believed to be the largest such database in the UK. “Scotts & Co.’s new low-cost sampling mechanisms will go well beyond the traditional approach of including sample sachets of new perfumes with product despatches,” adds the company.

Nigel Swabey, CEO of Scotts & Co., believes impactful, personalised direct mail is currently being under-exploited by CTP brands. He said: “A major industry research report published earlier this year revealed that of the more than £500 million spent on advertising by major fragrance and beauty brands, only a tiny fraction is being spent on direct mail. In fact, it’s less than we spend on the smallest of our catalogue brands.

He added: “One of the greatest challenges that CTP manufacturers face is sampling. We plan to go much further than the traditional approach. We would like to feature a new fragrance in each monthly catalogue mailing and, as our circulation will rarely fall below 400,000 mailings per month, we can offer ambitious brands an opportunity to achieve solus sampling of new fragrances on a scale that no consumer magazine can offer. The big difference with this sampling mechanism is that the only cost of placing samples into the hands of a huge qualified and interested female audience will be the cost of the sample itself. Unlike beauty magazines, we do not intend to make any charge for insertion!