CHARTRES, France — Guerlain pulled out all the stops for its new skin-care and makeup production facility, which was inaugurated here on Feb. 6.
The 233,333-square-foot center, called La Ruche, has a manufacturing area double the size of its predecessor, which was also in Chartres, and is set to produce 22 million units annually.
The light-filled, streamlined structure, which became operational in September, manufactures products such as Guerlain’s Météorites face powders and Orchidée Impériale skin care. There is also a section for packaging products.
The facility, employing 350, has state-of-the-art technology, including five machines custom-made for Guerlain emulsions.
The site is environmentally friendly, designed to minimize energy consumption and impact on the environment.
The unit’s manufacturing practices are on par with those in the pharmaceutical sector, and it received High Environmental Quality certification with an “excellent” level last summer.
You May Also Like
Here, it’s a mix of automated and artisanal. To wit: Some employees personally pass down their savoir faire.
While company executives would not disclose numbers, Guerlain reportedly invested 30 million euros, or $33.9 million at current exchange, in the facility.
“We have great ambition for the house,” said Laurent Boillot, chief executive officer of Guerlain, at the event that was also attended by France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls and Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive officer of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the brand’s owner.
Founded in 1828, Guerlain became part of LVMH in 1994 and counts the new production facility as its eighth industrial site to have opened in France since its conception.
Seventy-five percent of Guerlain’s sales, which are broken down almost equally among skin care, makeup and fragrance categories, are made in some 80 countries worldwide.
“Luxury is not only the sector of elegance, beauty, pleasure and refinement. It is also that of intelligence and ingenuity,” said Valls, who congratulated Guerlain on its dedication to French know-how as well as on the brand’s success abroad.
Arnault called Guerlain one of the jewels of the French luxury industry and of LVMH.
“Creativity, innovation — it’s essential for us,” he said. “The most important word in our métier is ‘desire.’ We are always after creation and desire.”
Speaking of Guerlain’s business specifically, Boillot said that after France, China is the brand’s second-largest market. It’s a zone abroad that has been a focus, alongside Russia, the Middle East and Japan.
Guerlain expects to concentrate further on the U.S. late next year or early in 2017.
The label — which has seen recent success with its fragrance La Petite Robe Noire and late in 2013 opened its renovated flagship on Paris’ Avenue des Champs-Élysées — currently has 15 freestanding boutiques. In the future that could be grown to between 20 and 25, according to Boillot.