Pure Beauty

How British heritage brand Elemis achieved cult status in China

By Amanda Pauley | Published: 29-Jun-2023

The British skin care brand’s reputation has boomed in the region and now more store openings and retail partnerships are on the cards. We delve into Elemis' strategy for breaking APAC

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‘Asia-Pacific’ (APAC) and ‘growth potential’ are words often muttered together, thanks to the region’s ultra competitive e-commerce market and high consumer spending in beauty. 

In 2022 alone, APAC’s health and beauty industry was valued at US$187.8bn, found analyst Global Data, making up the largest value share (39.5%) of the global health and beauty market.

So it is no surprise that cracking APAC is thought to be the holy grail for beauty businesses, especially gaining a presence in China, where the sales of cosmetics by wholesale and retail companies totaled 393.6bn yuan last year, reported Statista.

However, few beauty companies have made the leap to break the region in the same way as British heritage brand Elemis.

Over the past three years, the skin care company has built 19 branded stores within the region in bustling cities like Shanghai and Nanjing. Then there are its 344 retail outlets – 323 in Sephora China, three in Sephora Hong Kong, two in Sephora Thailand and 16 in Mecca Australia. 

China is a very energetic market and Elemis is a really new brand here, so there is lots of room and places to go
– Jing Min, Elemis' Brand Director in China

And the brand’s efforts are paying off. According to parent company's L'Occitane's most recent figures, Elemis APAC grew 29.2% in the financial year ending March 2023 and accounted for roughly 8% of the business’s total global sales.

The rest was split between the UK and US, where the 34-year-old brand is already well established, as well as its cruise line business. 

“It has always been a career dream of mine to bring Elemis to one of the fastest growing and most exciting markets in the world,” says Sean Harrington, co-founder and CEO of Elemis.  

“The scale of consumer interest in skin care, particularly premium skin care, is more than anywhere else in the world that I have experienced, and they have a real appreciation for quality and authenticity. 

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