By  on August 17, 2007

PARIS — Dr. Pierre Ricaud is working on a prescription to revive sales.

The Groupe Yves Rocher-owned treatment brand is banking on new markets, wider distribution and an image overhaul to return to growth after three years of stagnation.

While the direct-selling brand is the group's second biggest after the flagship Yves Rocher brand, sales are estimated to have hovered around 125 million euros, or $168.4 million at current exchange, since 2004, according to industry sources.

To kick-start growth, last October the Rocher family recruited Thierry Levallois, formerly managing director at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton-owned Guerlain, as managing director. "Among my objectives is to reduce our dependence on France, which makes us vulnerable," Levallois said.

With around 55 percent of sales generated in France, 15 percent in Russia and 13 percent in Germany, many European markets remain untapped, so plans are afoot to enter 14 new countries within four years. First up is Poland in September, which will be followed by Spain, Romania, Austria and Sweden in 2008. The brand is planning another attempt to crack the U.S. market, from which it withdrew last January due to sales difficulties.

While Ricaud, which was founded by a French doctor of the same name and Yves Rocher in 1986, preceded the recent raft of "doctor" brands, Levallois plans to capitalize on the segment's success for its European expansion. "It gives us a trendy image in our international markets," he said.

Antiaging facial care represents 67 percent of the brand's business, with body care (including sun-protection items) and makeup generating between 16 and 17 percent each.

In France, Levallois aims to reduce reliance on direct mailings and call centers, which bring in 90 percent of the business. Over the last year, Ricaud increased its freestanding salons in Paris from four to eight, doubling sales from January to May versus the previous five months. Four additional French doors are slated to open by yearend, while around 100 franchised salons are slated to bow countrywide between 2008 and 2010.

"With franchises we can develop our notoriety much more quickly," said Levallois.

Levallois also plans to update Ricaud's Web site, which receives between 15,000 and 18,000 orders a month and has a mailing list of 250,000 consumers.

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