Simon Tate - Kew flowers

Kew Health and Beauty md Simon Tate talks about the manufacturing of luxury cosmetics, trading internationally and how private label companies need to offer a holistic service

Kew Health and Beauty md Simon Tate talks about the manufacturing of luxury cosmetics, trading internationally and how private label companies need to offer a holistic service

With reported year on year growth in excess of 85% at his company Kew Health and Beauty Ltd, Simon Tate is well placed to give insight into both the modern private label business and how new ideas and functions can be incorporated into an established business. Having taken over family-owned pharmaceutical company Wallace soon after graduating from university, Tate perceived a gap in the market for luxury bespoke cosmetics and personal care products.

“I was looking at ways to diversify and I have always been interested in cosmetics,” says Tate. “The key was identifying where we could offer true added value, for example, for a spa that doesn’t have a pre-existing range. I talked to people with great brands and realised they were having problems in that they were practically having to set up a new company to launch a range. And of course these people were busy running their main business as well.”

Tate’s response was to set up Kew in 2004, which specialises in the formulation, development and manufacture of luxury private label products. “We view the cosmetics and personal care products sector as a fashion business where a constant stream of fresh ideas and a focus on market trends is the key,” says Tate.

“We are able to build the whole concept from scratch. Clients can choose to be involved at every stage or just in specific areas. This service allows the client time to concentrate on marketing the finished product successfully. Essential to Kew is a high level of personal service; every client has one key contact with our business who will liaise with the various departments on their behalf. We can also be contacted worldwide 24/7.”

Tate’s meticulous approach extends to the name of his company. “Although there is no direct link to Kew Gardens, I was trying to think of the sort of values we want the company to be associated with. The company was to be about taking products from the initial stages of conception all the way to the market. With Kew there is the idea of planting a seed and a thing of beauty emerging. As a company we are also very keen on organic and botanical ingredients, which is well represented through the flower association and imagery used.”

While Kew prides itself on maintaining the high level of client confidentiality required in the aggressively competitive beauty business, Tate explains that products developed include hair care, organic baby care products and facial moisturising creams all available in aluminium and paraben-free formulations. “We are also doing a lot of new work in colour cosmetics, bringing in organic solutions to preservative problems. A product we can talk about is Pout Bustier Cream, which is performing very well. We did all the formulations and the entire concept development for this technical product. This is distributed at Harvey Nichols and the Pout store in Convent Garden.”

Kew aims to offer innovation to clients. “We are happy to come up with ideas for them. Or we have taken client’s original packaging ideas and added value. In the luxury market it is essential that every aspect of the product – appearance, functionality and feel – have an intrinsic sense of value to the consumer.”

“The private label industry is growing as the cosmetics industry and the global economy in general increas in sophistication. Now companies offer cosmetic private label products where every aspect is bespoke and are capable of competing with brands that can rely on huge marketing budgets and a glamourous history that appeals to consumers.”

In my opinion having a UK manufacturing base is very important in that there are certain standards that are easier for us to regulate here. The general manufacturing shift to Eastern Europe and China must be kept in mind though. Certainly mainstream hair care is moving to Eastern Europe.”

Tate outlines Kew’s plans for the future, which focus on significant international expansion. “We are looking to establish a plant in the UAE. Stores like Paris Gallery offer great distribution options for high-end products there. Penetrating this market has specific challenges to meet - like having the capacity to produce packaging with Arabic symbols - and we can facilitate this.”

In addition to these operations Tate explains that alliances are in place in the US and Australia. “In general terms we acknowledge the scope in male grooming as a unique opportunity,” Tate adds.

With the ongoing trend towards natural products Tate is keen to meet the standards expected by consumers. “We are working towards approval with Bunny Leaping, RSPCA and the Soil Association. Kew has very high standards upheld through internal rules and regulations. We will apply these to every company we come into contact with when working on projects.”

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