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Australian skin care brand Aesop already accounts for 6% of Natura’s revenue

With a second store recently opened in Brazil, Aesop has doubled its presence globally since its purchase by the Brazilian company four years ago.

In late 2012, Brazilian direct sales leader Natura announced the purchase of a large share of Australian cosmetics manufacturer Aesop. Founded in Melbourne in 1987, the company became well known not only for its premium skin and hair care products, but also for its distinctive, minimalistic packaging made of amber glass and flagship stores. Each one of them flaunts an exclusively designed architectural project, where customers can try the products, some of which are displayed outside the shop windows.

Stuart Millar, general manager and president, Americas, at Aesop - CREDIT (...)

Stuart Millar, general manager and president, Americas, at Aesop - CREDIT Ale Virgilio

Four years have passed since the acquisition, and the two companies have maintained independent operations, with all of Aesop’s products still being manufactured in Australia. What did change – and very much so – was the company’s global standing. Aesop has set foot in 20 countries in Asia, Europe, America and Oceania, totaling nearly 170 stores. It’s almost double the number of points of sale as compared to 2013, where the company had 80 stores in 10 countries. “We are growing, and in a healthy way,” says Stuart Millar, general manager and president, Americas, at Aesop.

There are currently two stores in Brazil, both located in São Paulo. The first one, opened in June 2015 in the upscale neighborhood of Jardins. It was designed by all-star architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha, the mind behind projects such as the Brazilian Sculpture Museum (MUBE) and the refurbishing of São Paulo’s Pinacoteca gallery. The most recent store opened its doors to the bohemian suburb of Vila Madalena in October – this one designed by multi-award winning duo Fernando and Humberto Campana.

Our Jardins store’s revenues were 40% above expectations. The Vila Madalena neighborhood is completely aligned with the brand’s concept and I believe the new store will perform equally well,” says Millar. He states that Natura’s guidance was key in Aesop’s soft landing in Brazil. “We wouldn’t have entered this market so fluidly without Natura,” he claims. A third store is planned to take shape in the next 18 months, but the location is yet to be determined.

Featuring a mix of plant-base and laboratory-made ingredients that are free from silicones and parabens, Aesop’s products are cruelty free, just like Natura’s. Its prices, on the other hand, are steeper. A hand balm costs R$ 123, shampoos start from R$ 139 and a facial cream made from parsley seeds comes at the hefty price of R$ 275. To Millar, Aesop’s acquisition by Natura was not only based on ideological similarities, but a strategic move of the Brazilian giant in order to reach out to an audience that was still untapped.

As a result, Aesop has been gaining traction in Natura’s revenue reports. The company currently accounts for a 6% share of the group’s overall turnover, which totaled R$ 8 billion last year. The Australian brand’s global expansion is set to continue in 2017. “We don’t have a set amount in mind, but we do see many opportunities and a lot of potential in this strategy,” reveals Millar.

Questioned whether Aesop had plans of setting up production plants in Brazil and taking advantage of the variety of local ingredients – which is one of Natura’s core businesses –, Millar says: “we don’t have such plans for now. We like having control over our plants in Australia. But you know what they say: ‘never say ever’. No one knows just how big this market will become.

Renata Martins

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