NEW DELHI, India — In a major blow for the beauty industry in India, Hemansu Kotecha, managing director of Baccarose, died last Friday at the age of 62.
The cause of death has not yet been released, nor have details on services or survivors.
Kotecha was a businessman, distributor and owner of the company and a perfumery chain. He was the brain behind a beauty line, Chambor, that has counters all over the country. His company, Baccarose, distributes more than 55 beauty brands in India including Shiseido, Clarins, Elizabeth Arden, Guerlain, Escada and Burberry.
But more than all of that, say colleagues, Kotecha was a gentleman and a man of strong personal charisma, said to be single-handedly responsible for bringing dozens of prestige and premium brands into India.
“Hemansu Kotecha was a consummate professional and a pioneer in establishing the prestige beauty business in India,” said Rohan Vaziralli, country manager of India for the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc. “It was his vision that eventually paved the way for a host of new brands to enter India nearly a decade later. He was a mentor, friend and, most importantly, an amazing human being. The beauty industry will miss him.”
Similar sentiments were echoed across the industry. Ranjan Neikhrey, director of business development, Asia Pacific and the Middle East for Elizabeth Arden, said Hemansu single-handedly championed the development of prestige beauty industry in India. “His passion and dedication for the industry was illustrious. As the partner for India, Hemansu and Baccarose gave Elizabeth Arden a strong start and over the years our business has grown significantly.”
Kotecha often spoke about the frustration of waiting for retail to mature, for the “real” revolution in beauty to begin. As the Indian market picked up steam — at a rate of almost 20 percent a year — Kotecha saw dramatic changes in buying patterns, including a transition from a strong fragrance-only market to one in which skin-care and makeup sales have been growing faster than fragrance. Most of the brands he represented stayed with him, saying simply that they could not hope for a better distributor in India. His negotiating skills with retailers had realized a key positioning for beauty brands in department store chains such as Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle and Central.
The company also runs a chain of perfumeries called Parcos, of which there are more than 25 with more opening each month, and one scheduled to open this week. “At Parcos, you see a different consumer than those at the department stores and with our loyalty program now we will see more about their shopping preferences, what they like to buy, etc.,” he said in a recent chat with WWD. “I think the exciting part is that we needed a perfumery concept and we have been able to do it. In 2000, we began the real growth in the beauty market, although the retail wasn’t there at all. Over the last 10 years, retail has developed as malls have come up so that shaped the vision for us. Then we realized that India cannot grow just in department stores, it has to have perfumeries.”