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“There will be a before and after Covid-19,” Patrick O’Quin, FEBEA

As soon as the Ministerial Order authorizing the manufacturing of alcohol-based hand sanitizers was released, beauty companies took action to meet the need for hygiene products due to the Covid-19 epidemic. Beyond the immediate general mobilization, the crisis has shaken the whole economy and could also change many practices. Here is an update with Patrick O’Quin, President of the French trade association for the cosmetics and perfumes companies (FEBEA).

Patrick O'Quin, President of the French trade association for the cosmetics...

Patrick O’Quin, President of the French trade association for the cosmetics and perfumes companies (FEBEA)

Premium Beauty News - The beauty industry is joining forces to produce hygiene products in mass, in particular hand sanitizers. This ability to take action confirms the importance of this sector in France!

Patrick O’Quin - First, it confirms that cosmetic products are essential to our everyday lives. Contrary to preconceived ideas, they are not frivolous products. Hygiene products and toiletries (soap, shower and bath products, hair products, toothpaste…), which represent a significant part of what our industry produces, actually play a vital role in our daily lives.

Beyond daily hygiene, skincare products help our skin better manage the increased frequency of hand washing. Plus, even if we are confined, we need to feel good about ourselves. All psychologists recommend we keep taking care of our appearance at home. Again, cosmetic products are a keystone in this search for wellness.

Premium Beauty News - What is the outcome of this initiative so far?

Patrick O’Quin - It is too early to say. But we do know that over 30 companies have converted their production lines to meet this new demand. And those that keep manufacturing the same hygiene products as usual should also be counted.

Over 10% of our members took action from the very beginning, whether major groups or SMEs. However, it should be said that manufacturing antibacterial hand gel requires taking precautions and cannot be done on any industrial tool. The companies that handle alcohol as part of their usual processes have been the most reactive, but it is only natural.

Premium Beauty News - How are products distributed?

Patrick O’Quin - Distribution criteria are set up with public authorities, and we centralize part of the supply and demand in partnership with the Cosmetic Valley. Hospitals and health centres are the top priority…

Premium Beauty News - The crisis related to the Covid-19 epidemic has been shaking the whole economy. Are you considering asking for specific measures for the cosmetics industry?

Patrick O’Quin - Not yet. General measures applying to all sectors have been taken. Together with other industrial sectors, we have sent short-term requests, in particular to facilitate logistics in emergency situations. That is how movement restrictions were lifted in the weekend.

Premium Beauty News - Some retailers have suspended their payments, so that brands, in particular small ones, are experiencing difficult times.

Patrick O’Quin - Indeed, we have heard of that, but not from our members. The cosmetics industry is not the only one concerned, and MEDEF [largest employer federation in France] has sent all companies a letter to prevent these behaviours. Conviction measures are implemented first.

To us, from a legal standpoint, the notion of “force majeure” is questionable in this case, so it is up to the accusing party to provide evidence that all conditions are met.

Premium Beauty News - The epidemic highlights the structural weaknesses of supply chains.

Patrick O’Quin - Obviously, there will be a before and after Covid-19, and supply chain fragmentation strategies will need to be reviewed. Many companies had already changed their practices. And as circular economy and sustainable development concepts are gaining importance, we can definitely expect a real transformation in both consumer expectations and company processes.

This crisis might also help the European Commission give further thought to what circular economy actually is – a real green deal which better takes into account value chains, and not just plastic bashing. It is too easy and little relevant.

Premium Beauty News - It also seems that the epidemic is marking a return to borders, in the world of course, but maybe also in Europe. Are you expecting a swing in economic and commercial policies?

Patrick O’Quin - Obviously, renationalization and bilateralism have been making progress. American President Donald Trump’s politics are the best example.

But, as we operate in a global market, we still believe in multilateralism. Cosmetics manufacturers endeavour to partner on the global level as regards issues of common interest: the end of animal testing and alternative methods – Europe is far ahead when it comes to these matters – the environment, sun filters, and consumer information. Dealing with issues of general interest in a joint effort offers huge collective advantages.

Interview by Vincent Gallon

© 2020 - Premium Beauty News - www.premiumbeautynews.com
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