What was the impact of COVID-19 on the luxury fragrance industry, and how did it change your strategy?
Rather than creating new trends, COVID-19 acted as a catalyst and accelerated trends that had been underlying. It has become much more important for clients to see the bigger picture of a brand, beyond a mere product transaction. Their habits have drastically changed too, namely the use of digital, and on this front, e-commerce has been the prominent supportive pillar throughout the crisis. With all of this in mind, we have not changed our strategy, but accelerated our existing plans. Our growth strategy has three main pillars: connecting digitally, internally and with our customers; evoking emotional connections with our existing clients; and reaching new clients. Many interventions have been implemented in the last 12 months. In e-commerce, we moved to a state-of-the-art platform, having reinvented the consumer interface with very intuitive navigation, inspiring content, and rapid shopping possibilities. If we compare 4Q2020 with 1Q2020, we increased our e-commerce business six-fold. Traffic on our site has increased 66% compared to 2020, and revenues saw 50% growth. Despite the physical distance, we deepened our emotional connection to our clients. We have also expanded our global footprint and opened up new ways for clients to purchase Amouage. We are now present in 80 markets around the world, including China, where we launched in the last six months. In Oman, it is now possible to order through WhatsApp and receive white-glove home delivery. As retail is reopening, we will welcome clients around the world with a new merchandising generation that we have installed at more than 40 distribution points already. Meanwhile, we continue to innovate and launch new products. In April 2020, we introduced Interlude Black Iris, which has become one of our best performing creations, the Renaissance Collection, and, more recently in 2021, our power duo Boundless and Material, all to critical acclaim. On the business side, we are ahead of the curve and have doubled our business since 2020, being 20% upward on our 2019 performance ahead of the industry that is projected to return to pre-COVID levels only by 2022.
Where does Amouage sit with regards to sustainability and the clean beauty space today, and what are your plans for the future?
Sustainability and in general, corporate social responsibility, is a key focus for us, as it should be for any brand, nowadays. Our efforts include solar panels and water collectors on the roof of our plant. We are recycling: for example we are re-using ethanol to clean our machinery and disinfect surfaces reducing waste. We also moved to online meetings and reduced our overall travel. In terms of ingredients, we are working with all of our partners along the value chain to make sure the ingredients we are using are ethically planted, collected and produced before they go into our products. We are exploring more opportunities that will set us on the path to become even more sustainable in the future.
What are the advantages of being based in Oman?
Having Oman as our base is, as we see it, one of our greatest advantages. We are the only Oman-based international luxury house (more than 50% of luxury fragrance houses are related to France) and our rich history and culture are the inspiration for our creations and what makes us so unique. It is also our commitment to craftsmanship and quality ingredients that allows us to tap into the sophisticated perfume traditions of the region. Being based in Oman also helped us during the pandemic. The government's efforts have been tremendous, creating a framework that helped the retail side navigate the crisis. Also, thanks to the Ministry of Health, we have been able to vaccinate all of our employees, and our Oman operations have not been halted for a single day throughout the whole pandemic.