Ritual of Light collection

Rituals is primed for its next phase of U.S. expansion.

The fragrance, skin-care, body-care and home fragrance business gradually expanded its New York store footprint over the past few years, with a Grand Central location slated for February or March 2017. For its next U.S. act, Rituals plans to land wholesale partners and pick its next city for freestanding stores, according to founder and chief executive officer Raymond Cloosterman.

In Europe, where Rituals has already racked up legions of loyal followers, the brand is sold in Karstadt in Germany, El Corte Inglés in Spain, certain Sephora outposts and other locations. But in the U.S., outside of its freestanding stores, Rituals is sold only in Barneys New York and Cos Bar, and is looking to ramp up that distribution, Cloosterman said.

“From a brand building perspective, we’d like to start as high as possible, but at the same time, from a business perspective, you need traffic to get lots of transactions,” Cloosterman said.

In addition to shops in the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, West Village and other neighborhoods, Rituals has built out its New York footprint with recently opened a Williamsburg, Brooklyn, location, with shops in SoHo and Flatiron on the way for November. Rituals takes inspiration from traditions from around the world for its products.

“We’ve been able to build the brand without advertising, that’s how I started 16 years ago because we believe a brand like ours should be discovered by word of mouth and by not using traditional advertising budgets,” Cloosterman said. “We decided to invest our money in-store experiences, and we didn’t have the money, that’s also a good reason,” Cloosterman said. These days, Rituals has an advertising budget and is about to start a small amount of online and off-line advertising in the U.S.

Industry sources project the business will grow about 30 percent this year, to about 400 million euros for fiscal 2016 ($447.6 million). Growth for Rituals is coming from store openings, plus increasing sales in home fragrance and gifts.

Accordingly, the brand is launching several new home fragrance products in addition to its traditional limited-edition holiday collection and new perfumes.

“Our real asset is the fragrance experience,” Cloosterman said. “People come back because of the fragrances, because they’re subtle and elegant and different. When we brief our perfumers, we always ask them not to come with middle of the road things, but to come with more polarizing, beautiful approaches. That’s why these stories and these destinations are so important — they really submerge themselves in these ancient stories.”

The brand has just launched a handful of new products globally. For home, Rituals launched Parfum d’Intérieur, a room spritz, Private Collection Fragrance Sticks, a reed diffuser with elevated container, new scented candles, Maitre du Parfum, a scented door tassel and will launch scented Wardrobe Sachets in November. For holiday, the brand is launching its Ritual of Light Winter Limited Collection, complete with bath products, creams a scented candle and fragrance sticks. The collection smells of sweet orange and warm cinnamon. Rituals also sells its products in gift sets, which have been repackaged into textured, decorative, reusable boxes.

Its U.S. expansion is markedly different from Rituals’ growth in Europe, Cloosterman said, particularly because of difference in outlook.

“From a mentality point of view, [for the] U.K. and the U.S., I would say wellness is not part of the natural DNA….It’s growing, people talk about it, they think it’s important, especially in the past couple of years it has gotten some traction, but if you compare that to Sweden or Germany or France — in Europe, pampering yourself, looking after yourself and your home is a very natural part of what we do.”

As it expands in the U.S., Rituals is counting on the values of the Millennial generation. “Their search for wonderful brands with the right price points and also with this mindfulness and yoga on the rise, these are two underlying developments, which I would say help to create a connections with our Rituals brand,” Cloosterman said.

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