By strengthening its network of directly-operated shops, rolling out franchises and extending the use of refill stations, the Natura & Co Group subsidiary is both investing in new growth drivers in France and updating its image as a pioneer in eco-responsible and ethical cosmetics. Hugues Laurençon, General Manager, France & Benelux, gives us an overview.
Premium Beauty News – For some time now, we’ve been seeing the widespread use of refill stations in The Body Shop outlets. Can you tell us more?
Hugues Laurençon – All our shops in France are now equipped with refill stations! When the first station was tested in September 2020 in London, I had the clear intuition that we had to do it in France, that consumers were ready and that they would be receptive to this system, which was totally consistent with the values and DNA of the brand. When Anita Roddick founded The Body Shop in 1976, the only option for consumers was refills. It’s almost like going back to basics!
Shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and hand wash, twelve formulas are now available on refill. We’ve done a lot of work training our shop teams – who have enthusiastically embraced the project – since, for hygiene purposes, the refill is 100% assisted by the sales staff. It was necessary to get the POS staff involved, and that was very easy: they were immediately convinced! They are the ones who raise consumer awareness daily and guide them towards our refillable aluminium bottles for responsible consumption. Refills not only reduce carbon emissions, but they also cut costs, as they offer a 20% discount on the same product in a plastic bottle.
To date, we’ve sold more than 125,000 refill bottles in France! We’ve noticed that the formulas sell better in refills than their counterparts in individual bottles. It’s very encouraging and promising!
Premium Beauty News – The roll-out of franchises is one of the big highlights of the year, with the first shop opening in Besançon last March 8.
Hugues Laurençon – That’s perfectly right. This first opening was followed by a second one in Vannes on 31 March, then Poitiers on 27 April, Calais on 12 May and then Orléans a few days ago! We aim to open around ten franchised shops by the end of the year – which is looking very good – and around thirty in three years’ time, which would represent around 50% of our outlets in France.
Franchising at The Body Shop is a tried and tested model that enables us to serve our customers better. With our sixty-two shops, we couldn’t possibly cover all of France. By teaming up with partners who are well-established locally and who control their catchment area, we can serve new customers in medium-sized towns in France and the Benelux countries. The partners are ready and willing, and the first openings look promising. The Body Shop has been around for forty-seven years and has a long-standing reputation. The weight of years counts and gives credibility to the brand and its products, which have been tested and approved by hundreds of millions of consumers around the world.
Premium Beauty News – And what are your ambitions for own shops?
Hugues Laurençon – Just because we’re expanding our franchise network doesn’t mean we’re going to neglect our own stores – quite the contrary! Our ambition is to get our products into as many hands as possible and to promote our values which are effectiveness, sensoriality, eco-responsibility and ethical commitment.
This is also why we did not hesitate to relocate two of our shops this year to ensure they are in the best possible spots and enjoy the visibility they deserve. We made this choice for the shops in the Aushopping V2 shopping centres at Villeneuve-d’Ascq on the outskirts of Lille and Vélizy 2 in the Paris region. What’s more, on 17 May we opened our biggest shop since 2015 (Forum des Halles) at Les Quatre Temps shopping centre in La Défense! This boutique is set to become the number one outlet in terms of sales.
Premium Beauty News – What’s new in terms of products?
Hugues Laurençon – We started reviewing our entire product catalogue nearly three years ago – which represents 900 references – to ensure that they are all certified vegan by the Vegan Society and that all formulas contain at least 85% of ingredients of natural origin. At the same time, we have also worked hard to eliminate over-packaging and packaging wherever possible. For example, our iconic fragrance White Musk, which has been around since 1981, is now sold “naked”. Finally, to support all these recent initiatives, we have come up with a new brand signature: Changemaking beauty.