PARIS — E-commerce sales at Douglas, Europe’s leading prestige beauty seller, jumped 74.3 percent in the first quarter of its fiscal year, while overall sales declined 9.3 percent due to coronavirus-related store closures.
The Düsseldorf, Germany-based company said Friday that group sales in the three months ended Dec. 31, 2020, which include the key Christmas trading period, reached 1.2 billion euros, of which 433 million euros came from its business online — representing 37 percent of the group total.
That quarter marked a record for Douglas’ e-commerce business overall and the first time its online sales in Germany, despite hard lockdowns, generated more than 50 percent of the group’s total sales there.
In Germany, Douglas’ sales were down 3.3 percent.
“We used the experience gained from the first lockdown and, with our #ForwardBeauty.DigitalFirst strategy, continued to expand the online business substantially during the second wave of closures,” Tina Müller, Douglas Group chief executive officer, said in a statement. “In this way we have largely offset the negative sales effects from the lockdown during the Christmas business, thanks to a strong online presence.”
That included the group’s new social commerce platform, called Douglas Live, which was launched last summer and enables people to buy products shown during tutorials that take place several times per week via livestream. The result, Douglas said, is a conversion rate of up to 40 percent and that people stay longer on the group’s e-commerce shop.
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Among new brands online at Douglas, Drunk Elephant has registered monthly online growth of up to 13 percent, while in the luxury category. Augustinus Bader has been the most successful new launch, Douglas noted.
During Christmastime, perfumes were the most highly sought-after product category. Giorgio Armani’s My Way women’s scent notched up more than 30 percent sales growth per month in Germany during the period.
The use of Douglas’ app rose, too, making more than one-quarter of the group’s first-quarter e-commerce sales. Douglas introduced click-and-collect and phone-order services, as well.
Also in the quarter, Douglas reported net profits of 148 million euros, up 10.3 percent. Its adjusted operating margin came in at 15.1 percent and the group posted an operating profit of 177 million euros, equating to a 19.2 percent decline.
“Our platform strategy in e-commerce is working, as evidenced by our strong sales growth of around 60 percent to 1 billion euros in the 2020 calendar year,” said Vanessa Stützle, Douglas chief digital officer, referring to another company milestone. “We are resolutely continuing on this path with the further international rollout of our initiatives and marketplace already being used in Germany, Austria and France. All these efforts are geared to our clear goal of realizing 2 billion euros in e-commerce as quickly as possible.”
During the 2020 calendar year, Douglas garnered more than 19 million online orders, 50 percent more than in 2019.
As previously reported, Douglas said in late January that due to a shift in consumer behavior toward online shopping, about 500 of its 2,400 brick-and-mortar stores in Europe — mostly in the south — would be shuttered by fall 2022. Of those closures, there will be approximately 60 in Germany, where Douglas has close to 430 stores.
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