In People

Shiseido’s ambition to become “one of the top 5 prestige beauty group players”

Desazars is President and CEO of the European region of Japanese personal care giant Shiseido, and in charge of the group’s perfume business (which is headquartered in France) internationally. His mission – and it is part of the corporate 2020 vision – is “to make Shiseido Group one of the top five prestige beauty group players in the region within the coming five years. “

Most women (and some men) will have heard of the prestige brands in the group’s portfolio: Nars, Cle de Peau Beaute, Bare Minerals, Serge Lutens, Laura Mercier, narcisco rodriguez, Elie Saab, Alaïa Paris, Zadig & Voltaire, Issey Miyake (whose “Eau” is the cornerstone of the Shiseido perfume business, established in Paris in 1990) and now, thanks to an agreement signed last summer which went into effect last autumn…Dolce&Gabbana. As much as the deal suited Desazar’s strategy to boost the perfume unit by acquisitions as well as through organic growth, the opportunity occurred quite unexpectedly and Shiseido moved faster than you would think a large, 145-year-old company present in 120 countries with 46,000 employees worldwide could.

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An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse

“The D+G opportunity came about as Procter and Gamble was selling off its beauty products business to Coty last year. We were able to get Board approval and the money in place in record time,” he told me in an interview for this blog at the Women’s Forum 12th Annual Global Forum in Deauville, France, in December. Shiseido was an official partner in the event. “This deal with the mega-brand D+G literally doubled our size overnight…so we’re learning a lot.”

But perfumes and cosmetics are also lucrative once you get the business formula right. “It’s not unusual for a brand’s fragrance division to be more profitable than the fashion division,” says Desazars. “for example, YSL. Prada, however, has not been as successful with fragrance as it is with its fashion business.”

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It was in the 1960’s that fashion designers – Dior, YSL and Chanel – who actually introduced her flagship fragrance, Chanel No 5, before WW II – started creating fragrance and makeup to fit their “look.” It was part of the maturation of a business that, in Europe at least, some 200 years ago was a means of disguising nasty odors: death, tanning, general street stench. By the 20th century, perfume was a woman’s market; today, men are also consumers. “We see that men make up represent around 1/3 of the market today,” says Desazars, “and it’s definitely a growth market.”

Other growth markets Desazars has his eye on include China and Africa. Yes, Africa. “We see it as a long-term potential,” he says. “And we’re also opening an olfactory studio in France to customize demands for fragrance…sort of a DIY perfume.”

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