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Douglas’ Q4 Sales Spurred by E-commerce and Stores

The German premium beauty retailer has a platform strategy, which comprises e-commerce, marketplace and stores.

PARIS — German premium beauty retailer Douglas reported Tuesday that sales in the fourth quarter of its most recent fiscal year made advances, driven by e-commerce and reopened brick-and-mortar stores.

The company’s sales in the three months ended Sept. 30 reached 752 million euros, up 3.4 percent in reported terms and 7.3 percent on a like-for-like basis versus the same prior-year period.

Douglas’ online sales grew 16.7 percent to 211 million euros. While the group’s in-store revenues declined 0.9 percent in reported terms, they advanced 3.7 percent on a comparable basis to 537 million euros.

“Thanks to our consistent digitalization strategy #FORWARDBEAUTY.DigitalFirst, we managed to sustain robust growth in e-commerce in the fourth quarter even after the stores reopened, gaining further market shares and outperforming the market as a whole,” said Tina Müller, Douglas Group chief executive officer, in a statement. “After months of lockdowns in the previous quarters, the stores have now bounced back well. At the same time, we’ve augmented our operating results and, thus, also our profitability by a significant degree.”

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Douglas’ operating results rose 25 percent to 29 million euros in the fourth quarter.

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In its most recent fiscal year, group sales reached 3.12 billion euros, dipping 3.5 percent on a reported basis and 0.2 percent in like-for-like terms.

Douglas’ in-store sales were down 20.4 percent in reported terms and 19.2 percent on a like-for-like basis. The group said its brick-and-mortar business has stabilized since lockdowns ended.

In the 12 months, Douglas’ e-commerce sales surged 46.8 percent to 1.2 billion euros — up almost 50 percent versus the prior year.

“Long before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, we began to turn Douglas into a digitalized premium beauty platform,” Müller said. “The early change of strategy meant that we were well-equipped to deal with a crisis like corona[virus] when it arrived.

“Our business model is extremely resilient. Our platform strategy for beauty, which comprises e-commerce, marketplace and stores, appears to be working well,” she continued. “We want to invest in further developing e-commerce, while bolstering our in-store business in order to extend our leading position, and shape the future of the industry from a position of strength.”

Douglas’ platform strategy has been evolving.

“We have already rolled out our marketplace in five countries, thus increasing the online sales share from 25 percent to 38 percent,” said Vanessa Stützle, chief digital officer of Douglas Group. “This underlines our position as the leading one-stop shopping destination for premium beauty in Europe.”

She said Douglas has been gaining more appeal with younger consumers, and that the average basket rose approximately 4 percent to 70 euros in the fourth quarter. In that period, the percent of e-commerce sales made by mobile devices grew about five percentage points to 71 percent.

“We’re particularly pleased with the number of new customers in e-commerce, which is 12 percent above last year’s figure,” Stützle said. “At peak times, we’re now receiving as many as 32,000 orders an hour from customers across all Douglas systems.”

In the most recent fiscal year, the retailer expanded its offering by more than 20 percent, so today more than 160,000 products are available across its online shop, marketplace and stores.

“Douglas believes that the pharmacy cosmetics market harbors considerable potential for growth,” the company said, highlighting it has successfully incorporated brands such as La Roche-Posay, Vichy and CeraVe. A first pharmacy counter debuted in Douglas’ Frankfurt, Germany-based flagship, on the Zeil shopping street.

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